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PLAYS  OF  THE  YEAR 

Volume  10 
1953-54 


PLAYS  OF  THE 
YEAR 

CHOSEN   BY 
J.    C.    TREWIN 

THE  PRISONER 
Bridget  Bo/and 

THE  SCHOOL  FOR  WIVES 
Moliere,  adapted  by  Miles  Malkson 

MEET  A  BODY 
Frank  Launder  and  Sidney  Gilliat 

WAITING  FOR  GILLIAN 
ILonald  Millar 

BOTH  ENDS  MEET 
Arthur  Macrae 

VOLUME  10 
1953-54 


Copyright  1954  by 

PLAYS  OF  THE  YEAR  COMPANY 
AND  ELEK  BOOKS   LTD. 

14  Great  James  Street,  London  W.C.i. 
Printed  in  Great  Britain  by  Page  'Bros.  (Norwich}  Ltd. 


All  plays  included  in  this  volume  are  fully  protected 

by  British  and  United  States  copyright,  and  may 

neither  be  reproduced  nor  performed.,  in  whole  or  in 

party  without  written  permission. 


THE  PRISONER 
Copyright  1954  by  Bridget  Bo  land 

THE  SCHOOL  FOR  WIVES 
Copyright  1954  by  Miles  Malleson 

MEET  A  BODY 
Copyright  1954  by  Frank  Launder  and  Sidney  Gilliat 

WAITING  FOR  GILLIAN 
Copyright  1954  by  Ronald  Millar 

BOTH  ENDS  MEET 
Copyright  1954  by  Arthur  Macrae 


.  '^    '"» " 
'•  r  *v 


INTRODUCTION 

page  7 

THE  PRISONER 

page  17 

THE  SCHOOL  FOR  WIVES 

page  109 

MEET  A  BODY 

page  223 

WAITING  FOR  GILLIAN 

page  339 

BOTH  ENDS  MEET 

page  425 


FOE.  WENDY 
Who  Appreciates 


INTRODUCTION 


Qme  more  this  is  a  collection  of  recent  plays  almost 
fantastically  diverse  in  subject.  One  is  a  comedy  about 
income  tax;  another  is  a  sharp  study  of  mental  torture;  a 
third  is  a  new  version  of  a  Molilre  comedy  by  one  of  the 
most  distinguished  English  actors  of  his  time;  and  the  fourth 
and  fifth  are^  respectively^  a  comedy-drama  with  a  body  in 
the  piano >,  and  a  highly  competent  straight  play  that  derives 
from  a  novel. 

The  action  of  THE  PRISONER  passes  at  the  present 
day  in  a  mediaeval  castle  that  has  become  a  prison,  There 
are  two  settings.,  the  Interrogation  HLoom  and  the  prisoner's 
celL  Ingeniously  and  economically,  they  were  shown  in 
"London  in  a  double  set.  The  producer — or  director  as  ive 
must  say  now — might,  I  think,  have  considered  the  lines  of 
sight.  There  -were  one  or  two  expensive  seats  in  the  theatre 
from  which  it  was  impossible  to  see  some  of  the  action  in  the 
cell.  But  that  is  by  the  way:  I  mention  it  because  certain 
'London  theatres  have  seats — especially  in  the  dress-circle — 
that  should  be  marked  with  a  black  cross  on  any  box-office 
plan. 

Still,  this  is  nothing  to  do  with  Bridget  Roland's 
chilling  play:  one — though  not  everybody  realised  it  at  the 
time— for  three  voices  only:  those  of  the  Prisoner.,  the 
Interrogator,  and  the  Warder.  The  Prisoner  is  a  Roman 


Catholic  Cardinal  cc  with  considerable  pride  of  bearing  ". 
The  inquisitor  has  "  a  genuinely  pleasant  manner  ".  So, 
at  least,  we  meet  them  at  the  beginning  of  a  play  which 
shows  how  a  man  can  be  destroyed  by  psychiatric  interroga 
tion.  The  Cardinal.,  once  a  hero  of  the  Resistance ',  must  be 
softened.  Another  resistance  must  be  worn  down;  he  must 
be  made  to  say  whatever  the  Government  wishes.  His 
inquisitor  practises  a  dangerous  trade.  'Listening,  I 
remembered  those  lines  on  one  "  who  slew  the  slayer,  and 
shall  himself  be  slain  ". 

George  Orwell  (in  his  Nineteen-Eighty-Four  mood) 
might  have  appreciated  the  craft  of  THE  PRISONER. 
Here  the  questioner's  weapon  is  the  voice,  that  unceasing 
voice  with  its  tormenting  catechism,  on,  on,  through  the 
days  and  nights.  It  is,  in  effect,  a  water-drip  torture. 
Select  jour  place,  jour  sore  spot,  however  small;  concentrate 
upon  it  unremittingly,  and  sooner  or  later  your  strong-man 
victim  must  gibber.  Everyone  has  some  hidden  fear;  once 
it  is  revealed,  the  end  approaches.  When  I  met  the  play  I 
yielded  sooner  than  the  Cardinal.  After  about  an  hour 
there  was  little  I  would  not  have  confessed.  The  play  is  a 
document  in  the  madness  of  the  world:  as  presented  at 
the  Globe  by  Alec  Guinness,  as  the  Cardinal  who  finds 
gau^e  after  protective  gau^e  stripped  away  from  his 
mind,  and  by  Noel  Willman,  as  the  interrogator  who 
destroys  his  own  nerve,  it  was  a  lesson  in  the  player's  craft. 
I  remember,  too,  Wilfrid  Lawsorfs  bold,  chuckling 
flourish  as  an  earthy,  condemned-cell  warder  far  larger  than 
life.  Miss  Boland  hits  him  off  in  a  phrase.  He  has  "  the 
robust  manner  that  goes  with  a  mind  untroubled  by  thought ". 

The  most  terrifying  speech  in  the  play  is  simply  this, 
the  Interrogator's: 

Thafs  the  way  if  only  we  can  find  it — the  human 
weakness,  the  chink  in  the  plate  armour.  You've  told  me 
the  strength  of  jour  defences — we  should  save  more  of  the 
small  hours  of  these  long  nights,  my  dear  Cardinal,  if 
you  would  help  me  to  the  weakness,  'Plate  armour.  It 


zsfff  even  that,  you  know.  Ifs  cbain  mail,  a  clattering 
skin  of  linked  weaknesses,  all  holes  just  twisted  to 
gether.  Ifs  the  using  of  flails  and  battle-axes  thafs  a 
mistake.  The  fine  point* s  whafs  needed.  Not  even  a 
rapier.  A.  bodkin.  Thafs  why  the  women  win.  .  .  . 
THE  PRISONER  is,  alas,  acutely  a  play  of  our  time. 

II 

I  wonder  very  much  what  future  ages  will  make  of 
another  play  of  our  time,  Arthur  Macrae* s  farcical  comedy , 
BOTH  ENDS  MEET.  Will  the  subject  be  current,  say 
a  century  on,  or  will  playgoers  have  long  ceased  to  laugh  at  it? 
It  may  be  then,  of  course,  a  theme  for  tragedy:  dramatists 
may  write  of  tax  inspectors  with  a  real  and  agonised 
fervour.  Thalia  will  have  yielded  to  Melpomene. 

On  the  afternoon  before  the  London  premiere,  I  saw 
Valentine  about  to  extract  Cramptotfs  teeth  in  You 
Never  Can  Tell.  Shaw  unkindly  dropped  the  curtain  too 
soon  on  the  best  first  act  ever  set  in  a  dental  surgery.  I 
thought  of  this  at  night  when  Mr.  Macrae  devoted  the  whole 
of  his  comedy  to  a  single-minded  discussion  of  official  den 
tistry  as  practised  by  the  Commissioners  of  Inland  Revenue. 
A.t  present  this  is  accepted  as  a  matter  for  wry  jesting. 
We  laugh  grimly  at  ourselves  while  the  teeth  are  drawn,  and 
delight  to  pretend  that  the  average  tax  inspector  is  a  kind 
of  Front-de-Boeuf:  "  Tell  down  thy  ransom,  and  rejoice 
that  at  such  rates  thou  canst  redeem  theefrom  a  dungeon,  the 
secrets  of  which  few  have  returned  to  tell"  Theoretical  tax 
evasion  is  a  kind  of  parlour  game.  How  to  make  a  happy 
return?  How  far  can  one  get  before  the  dragon  pounces? 

I  am  sure  that  these  dragons  are  the  mildest  sort  of 
people.  True,  I  dorft  know  my  own  tax  collector,  though 
we  have  had  some  absorbing,  if  guarded,  correspondence. 
Having  heard  the  revelation  in  BOTH  ENDS  MEET, 
I  can  guess  what  he  is  like  (if  he  is  at  all  typical):  a 
haunted  man  who  hates  to  use  the  red-hot  tongs,  and  who 
moans  as  he  searches  for  the  drill.  You  might  say  that, 
like  the  Walrus,  with  sobs  and  tears  he  is  sorting  out  those 


of  the  largest  si%e.  This  tax  collection  is  a  tricky  business, 
Nobody  enjoys  a  public  admission  that  he  spends  his  life 
skinning  his  neighbours.  Hence  the  touching  embarrassment 
of  Arthur  Macrae* s  Mr.  Wilson  as  he  serves  a  writ. 
Hence.,  too,  a  young  man's  desire  to  call  himself  an  "  ac 
countant  "  instead  of  a  tax  official— a  cowardly  move  that 
forces  him  to  hear,  against  his  will,  the  methods  of  tax 
evasion  favoured  (in  theory  and  practice)  by  his  potential 
fiancte*  s  guardian,  and  by  a  very  knowing  solicitor. 

I  had  hoped  we  might  see  some  senior  official.  Mr. 
Macrae  could  have  had  his  fun  with  those  dogmatic  docu 
ments^  those  minatory  final  Demands.  The  pleasure  is 
denied.  All  the  other  ee  buff-envelope  boys  "  are  off-stage. 
We  are  left  with  the  taxpayers  as  they  tax  their  brains — 
both  in  seeking  how  not  to  pay,  and  then  in  trying  to 
recover  when  they  have  said  too  much,  given  themselves  away 
before  Authority. 

There  is  no  secondary  theme.  We  cannot  enter  the 
"  bays  and  backwaters  "  that,  as  Mr.  Masefield  has  said, 
are  often  the  most  delightful  parts  of  a  narrative.  All  is 
confined  to  this  matter  of  tax — and  absorbing  it  is.  I 
came  from  the  theatre  with  plenty  of  ideas,  though  I  cannot 
very  well  re-marry  my  wife  in  a  bucking  collier  in  the  North 
Sea.  (Besides  I  am  at  sea,  in  two  senses  about  this.)  I 
sympathise  with  Maggie: 

I  am  a  woman.  I  want  to  be  married  in  Church, 
wearing  white.  You  say.,  No.  Because  of  the  laws,  thafs 
to  be  given  up.  You  are  not  going  to  wait  in  a  morning 
coat  for  me  to  come  down  the  aisle  in  white  satin.  No! 
In  a  coaling  ship,  somewhere  offClacton-on-Sea,you  and 
I  are  to  be  brought  before  the  Captain  on  stretchers.  .  .  . 
TOM:  Why  on  stretchers'? 

MAGGIE:  Because  we9 re  in  the  North  Sea  and  are 
both,,  if  you  remember,  very  poor  sailors.  There,  in  front 
of  the  Captain,  we  two — miserable,  sea-sick,  and  pre 
sumably  covered  in  coal-dust — are  to  be  united  forever  in 
a  furtive  secrecy  unmatched  since  the  marriage  of  Mary 


10 


Queen  of  Scots  and  'Lord  Darn  ley.  .  .  .  No!    You 

can  forget  that.  No! 

At  the  first-night  interval  I  began  to  wonder  whether 
Mr.  Macrae  could  keep  it  up.  He  appeared  to  have  said 
everything  that  could  he  said,  used  all  his  ammunition. 
Then,  quite  suddenly ',  he  trained  upon  us  the  fire  of  his 
big  guns:  Miles  Malleson  and  Alan  Webb,  a  pair  of 
veterans  who  in  their  day  had  heard  the  Parisian  chimes  at 
midnight.  (I  had  at  first  a  wild  hope  that  they  might 
prove  to  be  two  of  the  Commissioners  of  Inland  Revenue  in 
person?)  Always  I  have  held  that  Mr.  Malleson  is  the 
best  living  Shakespearean  comedian;  and  he  can  he  un 
commonly  funny  in  modern  dress.  In  BOTH  ENDS  MEET 
he  arrived  in  a  huff-and-a-puff  and  a  cheerful  apoplectic 
frea^j  as  a  'Blimp  ivith  a  past  and.,  maybey  a  future. 
Alan  Webb,  more  of  a  foreign  Office  type,  joined  him 
gloriously  in  remembering  both  the  pranks  in  a  bygone 
Paris — what  whee^ings^  and  what  recriminations  I — and 
also  certain  little  matters  of  a  later  day  that  no  doubt 
would  excite  the  Commissioners,  thanks  to  this  pair, 
the  fiscal  comedy — directed  by  Peter  Brook — kicked  up  its 
heels  until  the  last.  As  the  text  will  show,  it  does  not 
try  to  overreach  itself:  it  gets  all  the  fun  it  can  from  its 
situation,  and  then  stops. 

from  the  Apollo  production  I  remember  also  Mr. 
Macrae  himself;  Brenda  'Bruce,  who  can  put  a  whole 
Bodleian  in  a  look,  and  who  delivers  a  series  of  orations  by 
twitching  an  eyelid  now  and  then  or  slightly  pursing  her 
mouth;  and  Cyril  Raymond,  as  a  comfortably  Anglo- 
Saxon  solicitor,  endeavouring  with  elephantine  coyness  to 
explain  his  revelations  as  so  much  fantasy — the  vapourings 
of  a  mind  given  to  that  sort  of  thing,  exaggeration  bred, 
no  doubt,  of  his 'Latin  blood. 

Ill 

And  now  Mr.  Malleson  himself— continuing  his 
partnership  with  Moliere.  THE  SCHOOL  FOR 
WIVES  (L'Ecole  des  Femmes)  is  the  fourth  of  these 

ii 


free,  but  now  definitive^  theatre-versions  that  we  have  had 
the  pleasure  of  printing  in  this  series.  Mo  Here,  I  am  sure,, 
would  have  appreciated  Malleson.  The  latest  version — it 
was  produced  at  the  Bristol  Old  Vic — has  the  quality  I 
noted  in  The  Miser:  "  In  its  suppleness  and  vivacity  it 
makes  others  seem  buckram-stiff" 

The  verse  comedy  was  produced  in  1662,  when  Mo  Here 
was  forty  He  has  had  to  endure  much  in  'English  dress. 
Let  me  (as  I  have  done  before)  borrow  a  few  speeches  from 
Baker  and  Miller \  whose  1739  ~Prose  translation  has  been 
said,  oddly,  to  have  "more  of  the  spirit  of  the  original" 
than  anything  more  modern  could  give.  Here  are  Arnolphe 
and  Chrysalde  in  the  first  scene: 

CHRYSALDE:  .  .  .  Would  you  have  me  open  my  heart 
to  you  as  a  friend?  Your  design  makes  me  tremble  with 
fear  for you,  and  what  way  soever  you  consider  the  matter ', 
to  marry  is  in  you  a  very  great  piece  of  rashness. 
ARNOLPHE:  My  friend.,  that's  true.  'Perhaps you  find 
reason  at  home  to  be  apprehensive  for  me.  Your  own 
brows  make  you  imagine,  I  suppose,  that  horns  are 
everywhere  the  infallible  appurtenances  of  matrimony. 
CHRYSALDE:  Those  are  accidents  nobody  is  secure 
against,  and  the  care  people  take  on  that  account  seems 
to  me  to  be  exceeding  foolish.  But  when  Tm  afraid  for 
you,  ifs  because  o'  that  raillery  which  a  hundred  hus 
bands  have  endured  the  sting  of.  For  in  short  you're 
sensible  that  neither  high  nor  tow  have  been  exempted 
from  your  reflections.  .  .  . 
And  here  is  Horace  in  Molttrfs  fifth  act: 
.  .  .  They  went  away  very  much  terrified;  and  as  I 
was  considering  bow  to  get  off,  young  Agnes,  whom  my 
pretended  death  had  frighted,  came  to  me  in  great  concern. 
(For  she  had  heard  what  the  people  said  to  one  another,  and 
being  less  observed  during  all  this  bustle,  she  easily 
slipped  out  of  the  house?)  But  finding  I  was  not  hurt, 
she  appeared  in  a  transport  hardly  to  be  expressed. 
What  shall  I  say  more  fye?  At  last  this  charming 
creature  has  followed  the  dictates  of  her  love,  and  being 

12 


unwilling  to  go  home  any  more,  has  committed  herself 
entirely  to  my  trust.    You  may  find  a  little,  by  this* 
harmless  proceeding,  how  much  the  gross  impertinence- 
of  a  fool  exposes  her,  and  what  a  dreadful  risk  she* 
might  have  run  had  I  a  less  sincere  regard  for  her. 
And  now,  with  relief  which  you  will  share,  I  commend yow 
to  Malleson.    One  day  I  hope  n>e  may  see  his  versions 
(which  are  appreciated  in  France)  presented  in  West  End 
repertory,  with  their  author  himself  in  the  cast. 

IV 

No  play  staged  in  August  1940  could  he  on  top  of  the 
world.  One  of  the  'London  productions  during  that  ominous 
month  was  a  "  comedy-thriller  "  by  Frank  Launder  and 
Sidney  Gilliat,  called  The  Body  Was  Well  Nourished. 
//  went  on  at  the  Lyric,  and,  inevitably,  came  off  within  a 
few  weeks  when  the  London  theatres  had  to  shut  down 
during  the  blit^.  But  it  was  too  good  a  specimen  of  its  kind 
to  be  forgotten.  Fourteen  years  later,  in  a  new  version 
called  MEET  A  BODY  and  described,  rightly,  as  an 
improbable  adventure,  it  arrived  at  the  Duke  of  York's  with 
Brian  JLeece  at  the  head  of  the  cast,  the  discoverer  of  a  body 
in  a  grand  piano.  Let  me  add  what  I  wrote  about  it  that 
summer  night: 

"  The  scene  is  St.  John's  Wood.  Up  there  in  N.W.% 
one  seldom  finds  more  than  a  couple  of  corpses  in  a  grand 
piano  during  an  average  week.  Mr.  Reece,  as  a  stranger, 
was  naturally  surprised.  He  was  still  more  surprised,  a 
little  later,  when  the  corpse  tottered  in  to  see  him.  Now, 
when  Mr.  Reece  is  surprised,  odd  things  happen.  He 
seems  to  open  out  like  a  telescope,  just  as  Alice  did  when 
she  had  eaten  the  cake.  As  he  grows  before  us,  we  can 
almost  hear  him  saying,  "  Good-bye,  feet 7"  On  the  heights 
his  eyelids  ftvitch  in  anguish.  His  mouth  is  compressed. 
He  performs  a  variety  of  ballet  movements.  We  feel, 
watching  him,  that  if  any  more  bodies  get  into  any  more 
pianos  in  St.  John's  Wood  or  elsewhere — or,  for  that 
matter,  if  anybody  surprises  Mr.  Reece  again  in  the- 

13 


slightest  fashion — the  Duke  of  York's  Theatre  will  have 
to  get  a  new  roof. 

"  The  play  in  n'hich  these  things  occur  is  by  Frank 
Launder  and  Sidney  Gilliat.  In  the  third  act  a  bomb  will 
very  probably  explode  in  a  radio  set  at  the  side  of  a  bar- 
parlour:  that  of  the  Green  Man  at  Newcliffe — on  the 
South  Coast,  I  believe.  Do  not  ask  why  the  student  of  old 
clocks  wants  to  blow  up  the  Member  of  Parliament.  In  fact, 
if  you  are  wise,  do  not  ask  anything,  but  take  the  play  as  it 
comes.  Watch  Mr.  Reece  as  he  demonstrates  with  mag 
nificent  nonchalance  a  vacuum-cleaner  about  which  he  knows 
less  than  ive  do,  or  else  gibbers  at  the  sight  of  pools  of  blood 
and  stray  corpses.  He  appears  to  be  saying,  c  How  is*t 
with  me  when  every  noise  appals  me! 9  and  the  more  he  is 
appalled  the  better  we  like  it" 

Mr.  JLeece  would  agree  that  the  authors  provided  the 
right  brand  of  text  for  his  personality;  and  it  is  a  text  that 
now  reads  well.  A.S  an  American  Professor  said  to  me, 
it  is  "  kinda  dear  ". 

V 

In  the  year  1951  Nigel  Balchin  published  a  novel  called 
A  Way  Through  the  Wood.  It  was  supposed  to  be 
written  in  the  first  person,  by  one  of  its  principal  characters, 
James  Manning,  who  said,  in  a  preface: 

"  In  the  middle  of  the  way  of  life,  I  found  myself  in  a 
dark  wood." 

This  is  the  only  way  in  which  I  resemble  Dante.  No 
one  looks  at  me  as  I  pass  and  whispers,  c  There  is  the 
man  who  was  in  He//.'  If  they  say  anything  it  is,  '  Old 
Jim  Manning's  had  a  rough  time  lately?  And  they  dotft 
say  it  with  am.  Very  properly.  For  there  is  nothing 
awe-inspiring  about  a  personal  mess.  It  is  a  thing  for 
the  sensible  man  to  forget,  rather  than  to  try  to  re 
member. 

But  though  it  is  all  over  now  I  am^  still  desperately 
confused;  and  I  am  tired  of  confusion.  There  is  still  a 


great  deal  about  the  whole  business  that  I  dotft  under 
stand,  and  it  is  very  important  to  me  that  I  should  under 
stand  it;  for  not  to  do  so  is  not  to  understand  people — 
how  they  mil  think  and  feel  and  act.  Until  this  happened, 
I  thought  I  understood  people  tolerably  well.  Now  I  am 
in  the  dark  wood,  in  which  it  seems  that  anything  might 
happen.  ..." 

In  his  play,  WATTING  FOR.  GILLIAN,  another 
treatment  of  the  theme  of  Mr.  Balcbitfs  novel.,  Donald 
Millar  showed  how  Manning  and  his  wife  passed  through 
the  dark  wood.  The  play  was  summarised  at  the  time  of 
its  St.  James's  production:  "  Incompetent  wife  snarled  up 
with  impeccable  husband  and  little  cad  who  has  the  prefix 
( Honourable  '.  A  motor  accident  complicates  further" 
This  is  a  sincere  and  theatrically  ingenious  drama.  The 
way  in  which  Mr.  Millar  works  it  out  must  have  surprised 
those  who  had  read  the  book  and  who  thought  they  knew 
what  to  expect. 

J.  C.  T&EWIN 
Hampstead> 
October,  1954 

I  am  grateful  to  The  Illustrated  London  News  and 
The  Sketch  for  permission  to  quote. 


THE  PRISONER 

by 
BRIDGET  BOLAND 


Copyright  1954  by  Bridget  Roland 


Applications  for  the  performance  of  this  play  must  be 
made  to  Christopher  Mann  Management  Ltd.,  140  Park 
Lane,  London  W.\.  No  performance  may  take  place 
unless  a  licence  has  been  obtained. 


On  April  i4th,  1954,  by  arrangement  with  Peter 
Glenville,  Tennent  Productions  Ltd.  presented  the 
play  at  the  Globe  Theatre,  London,  with  the 
following  cast: 

THE    INTERROGATION    ROOM    WARDER 

Colin  Douglas 
THE  PRISONER  Alec  Guinness 

THE    INTERROGATOR  No&lWillmatl 

THE  SECRETARY  Timothy  Findky 

THE    CELL    WARDER  Wilfrid  LeWSOn 

THE  DOCTOR  Kenneth  Edwards 

THE    BARBER  John  Gill 

A  WARDER  Richard Easton 

AN  OLD  WOMAN  Lilian  Moubrey 

Directed  by  Peter  Glenville 

Setting  by  Felix  Labisse 

Technical  Adviser  to  Felix  Labisse :  Michael  Northen 
Incidental  music  composed  by  Roberto  Gerhatd 


CHARACTERS 

THE  PRISONER 

THE  INTERROGATOR 

THE  WARDER 

A  SECRETARY 

A  DOCTOR 

A  BARBER  .  none  of  whom  speaks 

WARDERS 

AN    OLD    WOMAN 


SYNOPSIS  OF  SCENES 
ACT  ONE 

SCENE  i.  The  interrogation  room  of  a  continental  prison 

SCENE  2.  The  prisoner's  cell 

SCENE  3.  The  interrogation  room 

SCENE  4.  The  cell 

SCENE  5 .  The  interrogation  room 

ACT   TWO 

SCENE  i.     The  cell 

SCENE  i.     The  interrogation  room 

SCENE  3.     The  interrogation  room 


ACT  THREE 


SCENE  i.     The  cell 
SCENE  2.     The  cell 


Time:  The  Present 


ACT  ONE 

Scene  i 

Scene:  The  interrogation  room  of  a  continental  prison* 

The  set  suggests  a  cell,  furnished  only  with  essentials. 
There  is  an  impression  of  a  barred  window,  through  which 
at  present  daylight  streams,  and  two  desks,  with  a  swivel 
chair  for  the  prisoner  in  front  of  the  main  one.  There  is  a 
telephone  on  the  extra  desk  and  a  typewriter,  and  an  old 
fashioned  house  telephone  on  one  wall.  There  is  a  steel  filing 
cabinet  and  a  row  of  extra  chairs.  Throughout,  whether 
daylight  is  indicated  or  not,  a  practical  overhead  light 
shines  over  the  prisoner's  chair. 

The  door  is  opened  by  the  Warder,  a  man  of  uninteresting 
appearance,  with  one  starting  characteristic:  a  loud  and 
unpleasant  sniff,  which  punctuates  the  succeeding  scenes  at 
inappropriate  intervals.  He  looks  round  the  room,  goes 
into  the  passage  again,  jerks  his  head  beckoningly.  There 
passes  him  into  the  room  the  Prisoner,  a  man  of  middle 
age,  in  the  cassock  of  a  Rowan  Catholic  Cardinal.  He 
has  considerable  pride  of  bearing.  He  looks  about  him  and 
smiles  wryly. 

The  Warder  sniffs  heartily  and  goes  out,  closing  the  door. 
The  Prisoner  feels  the  chair  before  the  desk,  as  the  lodger 
feels  his  bedsprings,  and  sighs.  He  looks  up  at  the  over 
head  light,  finds  the  switch  and  turns  it  over  with  a  grin.  He 
stands  quite  still  for  a  moment  listening,  then  turns  to  face 
the  door.  It  is  opened  by  the  Warder,  who  stands  back 
to  let  the  Interrogator  pass.  The  latter  is  much  the  same 
age  as  the  Prisoner,  with  a  genuinely  pleasant  manner. 
He  is  followed  by  his  Secretary,  a  bustling,  important  little 
man.  The  Prisoner  looks  mildly  surprised  at  the  identity 
of  the  Interrogator. 


ACT    ONE,    SCENE    ONE 

INTERROGATOR:  My  dear  Cardinal!  Fantastic,  isn't 
it,  after  all  these  years  ?  How  are  you  ? 

[He  holds  out  his  hand.  The  Prisoner  hesitates,  and  then 
takes  it.] 

PRISONER  :  Very  well — at  the  moment. 

[The  Warder  has  just  noticed  the  light.  With  a  shocked 
cluck  he  turns  the  switch  off  again.] 

INTERROGATOR  (to    Warder)-.  All  right.    All  right. 

(To  Prisoner.)  Been  here  before,  eh  ? 

PRISONER  :  Near  enough. 

INTERROGATOR:  Ludicrous,  aren't  they?    Still  using 

electricity  for  all  it's  worth,  as  though  nothing  had 

been  invented  since.    (To  Warder.)    All  right,  all 

right.  (He  gestures  him  out.) 

\The  Warder  goes •,  closing  the  door] 
Do  sit  down,  won't  you  ? 

{The  Prisoner  remains  standing.  The  Secretary r,  with  much 
important  jangling  of  keys,  is  unlocking  one  of  the  filing 
cabinets.] 

What's  all  that  about?  Oh,  for  heaven's  sake, 
Stephen,  we  don't  need  any  more  bumf. 

[The  Secretary  transfers  his  attention  to  the  arrangement 
on  the  desk  of  the  papers  he  has  brought  with  him.  When 
ever  he  can  do  so  unobtrusively  he  stares  with  fascination  at 
the  Prisoner,  who  once  catches  him  at  it  and  born.] 

It's  not  going  to  take  us  long  to  straighten  this  out. 
I  can't  think  why  the  authorities  didn't  simply 
arrange  for  you  to  come  up  to  my  office  at  the 
Ministry  of  Justice — or  I  could  have  slipped  over  to 
the  Cathedral  some  time.  Still  a  bit  new  to  power, 

22 


THE    PRISONER 

you  know,  and  inclined  to  use  a  battering  ram  when 
a  door-knocker  would  do.  All  right,  Stephen,  I 
shan't  need  any  of  that,  you  know.  (To  Prisoner.} 
You've  been  out  of  town,  though,  recently,  haven't 
you? 

PRISONER:  To  Rome.  With  a  return  ticket. 
INTERROGATOR  :  You  flew  though. 
PRISONER:  It's  quicker — both  ways. 
INTERROGATOR:  But  aeroplanes  do  worry  them  so,  at 
the  Ministry  of  the  Interior.  We  progressive  govern 
ments  are  inclined  to  distrust  the  march  of  science — 
like  any  other  march,  unless  we  are  issuing  banners. 
Thank  you,  Stephen.   I'll  use  the  house  'phone  if  I 
need  you. 

[The  Secretary  goes,  remembering  halfway  that  he  hasn't 
locked  the  filing  cabinet y  and  coming  back  with  a  jingle  of 
keys  to  do  so.] 

(To  Prisoner. .)  Cigarette  ? 

PRISONER  (laughing) :  Thank  you — no. 

INTERROGATOR:  Given  it  up?  I  keep  trying  to. 

PRISONER:  If  I  might  smoke  my  own — while  they 

last? 

INTERROGATOR  :  Oh,  now  I  do  resent  that.  Drugged 

cigarettes  already?   You  don't  give  me  much  credit 

for  the  art  of  conversation. 

PRISONER:  On  the  contrary,  I  remember  you  as  a 

young    barrister    conducting    some    of    the    most 

brilliant  cross-examinations  I've  ever  heard.  When  I 

was  studying  voice-production  for  the  pulpit,  the 

ecclesiastical  authorities  thought  the  law  courts  less 

disedifying  than  the  theatre.    That  was  in  the  days 

when  cross-examinations  were  held  in  public,   of 

course.  Nowadays  I — smoke  my  own. 

INTERROGATOR:  Goodbye,  Stephen. 


ACT    ONE,    SCENE    ONE 

[The  Secretary  goes  out.     The  Interrogator  lights  both 
cigarettes.} 

Now  look  here,  Eminence,  stop  treating  me  as  a 
police  inspector,  and  relax. 

PRISONER:  You  can  hardly  blame  me,   under  the 
circumstances. 

INTERROGATOR:  I've  told  the  Powers  that  Be  that 
your  arrest  is  the  worst  gaffe  they've  made  yet.  You're 
a  national  monument.    "  Please  do  not  deface." 
.  PRISONER:  Please,  do  not  deface. 
INTERROGATOR:  I'm  sorry.    This  is  humiliating  for 
you  and  it's  shaming  for  me.    You're  not  just  a 
national  figure.  Since  the  war,  since  all  your  work  for 
the  Resistance  under  the  Occupation,  you've  been  a 
man  to  every  man  of  us.  I  have,  if  you'll  allow  me  to 
say  so,  a  deep  personal  respect  for  you — combined, 
of  course,  with  a  fanatical  loathing  of  what,  for  some 
reason,  is  always  called  your  cloth!    Come  now — 
PRISONER:  Well,  I'm  in  your  hands. 
INTERROGATOR  :  Let's  get  down  to  it.   (He  opens  a  file 
on  'the  desk,  and  turns  pages.)   Official  blather — higher 
official  blather — "  eyes  grey,  hair  thinning." 
PRISONER:  I  also  have  a  tonsure. 
INTERROGATOR  :  Born  here  in  the  capital — were  you  ? 
I  never  knew  that. 
PRISONER:  Just  off  the  fish  market. 
INTERROGATOR:  Local  boy  makes  good.    I'd  have 
said  a  country  town,  a  lawyer's  or  a  doctor's  son. 
PRISONER:  I    could    have    told    you    more    about 
yourself.  We  had  the  acreage  of  your  father's  estate 
in  your  service  dossier,  in  the  Resistance.    Arable, 
pasture,  and  forest.  Fishing  too — but  a  long  way  from 
fish  markets.   A  noble  inheritance. 
INTERROGATOR  :  Heavens,  don't  tell  the  Government. 
You'll  get  me  the  sack.    "  War  record — see  separate 

24 


THE    PRISONER 

file."  A  file  to  itself.  There  aren't  many  of  us  who'd 
need  that. 

PRISONER  :  You  did  well  enough,  in  your  district. 
INTERROGATOR  :  Do  you  ever  regret  those  days  ? 
PRISONER  :  Among  the  wars,  I  prefer  those  in  which 
one  is  on  the  same  side  as  one's  fellow  countrymen. 
INTERROGATOR:  Ah,  here  it  is.    (He  looks  over  a 
paper  in  silence  for  a  moment?)  I'm  sorry.  Do  sit  down. 

\The  Prisoner  leans  on  the  chair  or  on  the  spare  desk,  but 
remains  standing.'} 

(Still  among  the  papers.)  I  see  you  issued  a  statement 

to  be  published  if  you  weren't  back  at  the  Cathedral 

within  five  hours,  that  any  information  you  gave  or 

confession  you  made  would  be  the  result  of  drugs  or 

torture,  and  was  not  to  be  credited. 

PRISONER:  "The  result  of  human  weakness"  was 

what  I  said. 

INTERROGATOR:  Have    you    a    human    weakness? 

Well.,  I  don't  suppose  you  object  to  answering  how 

many  ordained  priests  there  are  in  the  country  ? 

PRISONER:  Certainly  not.    Roughly  four  thousand 

odd. 

INTERROGATOR  :  Granted  most  of  the  population  was 

Catholic  in  the  past,  what  about  remaining  members 

of  recognised  Catholic  Societies  and  organisations  ? 

PRISONER:  Why  not  look  it  up  in  the  directory? 

INTERROGATOR:  Why  not,  indeed? 

[The  Interrogator  sits  casually  on  the  edge  of  his  desk  to 
write  the  answers,  leaning  over  with  his  back  to  the 
Prisoner.] 

PRISONER:  Counting  the  League  of  Decency  and  the 
Mothers'  Unions  ? 


ACT    ONE,    SCENE    ONE 

INTERROGATOR:  Oh,  definitely,  I  should  say. 
PRISONER:  Divide  the  Catholic  population  by  four, 
and  then  divide  by  three  again,  because  they're  all 
the  same  ladies  wearing  different  hats,  multiply  by  — 
call  it  eighteen  thousand. 
INTERROGATOR:  Twenty? 
PRISONER  :  It's  a  rounder  figure. 
INTERROGATOR  i  Members  of  underground  Catholic 
Societies  and  organisations.    (After  a  pause.)   That's 
what  it  says. 

\Thej  both 


Yes,  they're  a  bit  premature  with  that  one.   Members 

of  the  Christian  Workers  Trade  Organisations  ? 

PRISONER:  Offhand,  a  hundred  and  fifty-eight  thou 

sand.  Disbanded.  Suppressed  —  remember? 

INTERROGATOR:  So  I'd  heard.   Propaganda  centres, 

anti-government  ? 

PRISONER:  None.  No,  wait  —  how  many  pulpits  have 

we? 

INTERROGATOR  (making  a  note)  :  That  seems  to  be  that 

lot. 

PRISONER:  Well,  the  last  one  was  a  gift,  the  booby 

prize.    (Not  at  all  sorry.)   Forgive  me,  that  was  un 

kind. 

INTERROGATOR  :  Your  Eminence  - 

PRISONER:  I  know.    This  is  more  awkward  for  you 

than  it  is  for  me. 

INTERROGATOR:  Hardly  that,  I  suppose. 

PRISONER  :  Oh,  I  don't  know,  in  spite  of  your  political 

creed  it's  you  who  are  the  gentleman.  Degrees  as  a 

lawyer  and  a  doctor,   born  a   gentleman,    of  an 

ancient  house.   No  tides  nowadays,  of  course,  but 

yours  was  a  noble  line. 

INTERROGATOR:  You're   a   Prince  of  the   Church, 

aren't  you? 

26 


THE    PRISONER 

PRISONER:  A  temporal,  practically  a  diplomatic 
appointment.  We  think  more  highly  of  the  spiritual 
grades  I  have  never  achieved.  Look,  don't  think  I 
don't  enjoy  fencing  with  you,  but  your  masters  are  in 
a  hurry,  I  fancy.  People  who  are  going  to  make 
heaven  on  earth  always  are,  so  hadn't  we  better  come 
to  the  point? 

INTERROGATOR:  A  man  attacking  a  fortress  tries  to 
get  a  plan  of  the  defences. 

PRISONER:  My  dear  sir,  you  should  have  asked  for  it! 
I  am  reasonably  acute,  my  mind  works  fast,  if  not 
very  deeply,  I  am  tenacious,  wary,  proud,  and  have 
few  of  the  finer  feelings. 
INTERROGATOR:  Proud? 

PRISONER  :  Quite  sinfully — of  my  record  in  dealings 
with  your  predecessors,  the  Gestapo.  I  am  difficult 
to  trap,  impossible  to  persuade,  and  even  more  im 
possible  to  appeal  to.  Also,  I've  been  here  or  here 
abouts  before,  and  I  know  the  ropes.  I  am,  besides, 
tolerably  inured  to  physical  pain. 

\Tbe  Interrogator  looks  at  him  for  a  moment^  and  then 
goes  to  the  house  'phone  on  the  wa/L] 

INTERROGATOR:  Three  one  .  .  .  Stephen,  bring  me 
down  the   completed  confession,   will  you?    (He 
hangs  up  and  turns  back.) 
PRISONER:  Already? 

INTERROGATOR:  You  might  care  to  hear  it.  I  don't 
think  it  a  very  good  one,  myself,  but  it'll  give  us  some 
sort  of  agenda  to  work  from. 

PRISONER:  The  State  isn't  fussy  about  just  what  we 
say  I've  done  ? 

INTERROGATOR:  Cards  on  the  table ?  No. 
PRISONER:  There's  no  particular  plot,  counter-revo 
lution,    or    underground    movement    that    they're 
anxious  to  unmask? 


ACT    ONE,    SCENE    ONE 

INTERROGATOR:  Not  unless  you  happen  to  know  of 
one — in  particular. 

PRISONER:  They  believe  us  harmless,  but  require  us 
discredited.  And  the  point  of  arresting  me? 
INTERROGATOR:  To — deface  the  national  monument. 
We  can  no  longer  afford  you  at  home  or  abroad,  for 
your  own  followers  or  foreign  journalists  to  watch 
and  quote. 

PRISONER  :  I  am  not,  you  know,  beloved.  I  am  not  a 
likeable  man. 

INTERROGATOR:  No.  In  an  odd  way,  that's  the 
point.  It's  not  the  personality  of  a  demagogue  we're 
up  against,  it's  the  record  of  a  hero.  That's  what  we 
have  to  destroy.  You  see,  I  take  you  at  your  own 
valuation,  and  show  you  my  hand  from  the  start. 
PRISONER:  Oh  you're  wise  to  skip  the  preliminary 
skirmishing. 

INTERROGATOR  :  It  might  have  been  amusing,  if  we'd 
had  time*  What  a  pity  you're  on  the  wrong  side. 
PRISONER:  Tell  me,  you  yourself,  can  you  admit  no 
possibility  of  good  on — the  other  side  ? 
INTERROGATOR  (with  complete  honesty) :  No.  Very  little 
good  on  either,  but  on  your  side  not  even  right.  And 
we  can't  allow  you  the  right  to  be  wrong. 
PRISONER:  Ah.  That's  the  root  of  it. 
INTERROGATOR:  Don't  tell  me  your  side  aren't  the 
same  in  the  parts  of  the  world  where  they're  on  top. 

[The  door  is  opened  by  the  Warder.,  and  the  Secretary  brings 
in  a  thick  sheet  of  typescript.  Both  he  and  the  Warder  stare 
with  startled  interest  at  the  Prisoner. ~\ 

I  expect  this  will  have  fluttered  the  dovecotes.   You 
wouldn't  care  to  sign  it  right  away,  and  really  shake 
them?  You  know,  you  might  just  as  well. 
PRISONER:  Fd  love  to  read  it  first,  if  I  may. 
INTERROGATOR:  Thank  you,  Stephen. 

28 


THE    PRISONER 

[He  gestures  to  him  to  hand  the  typescript  to  the  Prisoner 
and  he  does  so,  though  clearly  shocked  by  the  break  from 
routine.] 

I  know,  I  know,  it's  not  even  supposed  to  exist  yet. 
We're  just  starting  at  the  wrong  end,  that's  all,  in 
order  to  save  time. 

[The  Interrogator  sits  down.  The  Secretary  is  about  to 
remove  the  papers  he  placed  earlier.] 

No,  no — I  may  need  those.  Run  along.  And, 
Stephen,  I  shall  want  you  to  stand  by  tonight. 

\The  Prisoner  looks  up  quickly  with  a  wry  smile.  The 
Warder,  who  has  stood  through  this  interchange,  sniffs 
mournfully  and  holds  the  door  open— for  the  Secretary  to  go 
out — closes  it  and  puts  a  chair  against  the  wall  by  it  on 
which  he  sits,  composing  himself  for  a  long  session] 

Sit  down,  your  Eminence. 

[At  his  tone,  the  Prisoner  obeys  with  a  little  bow  of 
formality.  Their  official  relationship  is  established] 


Curtain 

Scene  2 

Scene:  The  Prisoner's  celL 
Time:  Night. 

There  is  a  chair,  table  and  bench,  but  no  bed.  There  is  a 
high,  barred  window  and  an  overhead  practical  light  which 
is  always  on. 


ACT    ONE,    SCENE   TWO 

The  Prisoner  is  kneeling  as  the  curtain  rises.  He  is 
muttering,  giving  an  air  of  prayer  without  piety.  (It  is 
for  this  effect  that  the  formality  of  the  "Latin  is  suggested, 
though  not  essential}. 

PRISONER:  <e.  .  .  .  May  He  not  slumber  that  keepeth 
thee.  Behold  He  shall  neither  slumber  nor  sleep  that 
keepeth  Israel.  The  Lord  is  thy  keeper,  the  Lord 
is  thy  protection  upon  thy  right  hand.  Save  us,  O 
Lord,  while  we  wake  and  guard  us  while  we  sleep, 
that  we  may  watch  with  Christ  and  sleep  in  peace. 
In  nomine  Patris,  et  Filii,  et  Spiritus  Sancti.  Amen." 

[He  makes  the  sign  of  the  cross  (the  automatic  gesture  of 
habit}  on  the  last  words,  as  he  rises.  He  sits  down  and 
composes  himself  elaborately.  He  looks  up  at  the  light 
and  grimaces.  He  relaxes  carefully.  'There  is  a  slight 
pause.  Then  the  door  opens  briskly^ 

]The  cell  Warder  comes  in.  He  is  a  competent  professional 
of  rather  more  than  middle  age,  though  time-less  as  a 
machine,  and  with  the  robust  manner  that  goes  with  a 
mind  untroubled  by  thought.] 

WARDER:  Ah  I     None   o'  that.     Mustn't   drop  off, 
y'know.  Can't  have  that.  You  walk  up  and  down  a 
bit.  Nothing  like  walking  up  and  down  for  waking 
you  up. 
PRISONER:  It  must  be  thirty-six  hours  since  I  slept. 

[He  gets  up  and  moves  about  as  the  Warder  directs^ 

WARDER:  That's  right.    Being  difficult,  are  you? 
PRISONER:  I  hope  so. 

WARDER:    Beats     me.      Always     does.       "Human 
nature  ",  they  say. 

30 


THE    PRISONER 

PRISONER  :  What  is. 

WARDER:  "  Not  guilty."  Every  time,  "  Not  guilty." 
PRISONER:  You  must  have  heard  a  good  deal  of  that, 
certainly  since  the  new  government  took  over. 
WARDER:  Since  the  new.  .  .  ?  Know  how  long 
I've  been  in  the  Prison  Service?  Thirty-one  years. 
"  Not  guilty,  officer,  I'm  not  guilty.  It's  a  put-up 
j  ob,  my  enemies  wanted  me  out  of  the  way,  my  wife 
wanted  me  out  of  the  way.  I'm  not  like  other  prison 
ers.  Me,  I'm  not  guilty."  Nor  you  neither,  I 
suppose? 

PRISONER:  That's  right. 

WARDER:  Keep  walking  a  bit,  I  should,  it  stirs  the 
circulation. 

PRISONER:  If  I  preferred  to  sit  down? 
WARDER:  Well,  it's  regulations,  you  see.  Every  so 
often. 

PRISONER:  Yes,  I  remember. 
WARDER:  Been  inside  before,  have  you? 
PRISONER:  A  criminal  type,  you'd  say? 
WARDER:  There's  as  many  criminal  types  as  there's 
men  and  women  in  the  world.  I've  found  that  out  in 
thirty-one  years.    Guilty.   Everyone.   Something  on 
their  conscience.  Whatever  they've  been  arrested  for, 
something  on  their  conscience.  And  what's  the  other 
thing  they  have  in  common?    "Not  guilty."    It's 
only  what  they're  guilty  of  there's  any  variety  in. 
PRISONER  :  And  what  would  my  type  be  ? 
WARDER:  Political,  you're  in  for.  Well,  that's  not  a 
very  interesting  line,  but  there's  generally  more  to  it 
than  meets  the  eye.  Only  being  a  priest  puts  you  out 
of  a  lot  of  likely  classes,  of  course. 
PRISONER:  Good. 

WARDER  :  Larceny,  for  instance.  Petty  larceny,  that  is . 
You  folk  live  too  well  to  need  to  pick  pockets,  eh  ? 
And  if  you  do  rob  your  own  poor  boxes,  who's  to 


ACT    ONE,    SCENE    TWO 

know?  Same  with  violence.  You  don't  need  to,  do 
you — knock  an  old  crone  down  and  snatch  her  bag — 
she'll  put  it  in  the  plate,  Sunday,  what  they  call  the 
widow's  mite.  Rape?  Why  should  you  bother, 
with  all  the  pretty  girls  coming  into  the  dark  con 
fessionals  in  the  dark  corners  of  your  dark  churches, 
mm  ?  Oh,  you  cunning  old  lechers,  eh  ? 
PRISONER:  Do  you  really  believe  that? 
WARDER:  Come  on  I  cc  Confessions  six  to  nine." 
Evenings,  always,  isn't  it?  Dusk.  City  girls, 
coming  home  from  work,  sharp,  smart,  neat  little 
things,  with  their  well-brushed  hair  and  their  silk 
stockings — up  the  Cathedral  steps,  two  at  a  time,  with 
their  tight  little  skirts  clinging  to  their  behinds — I've 
watched  'em — nice,  eh?  "  Confessions  six  to  nine  " 
— and  absolution  thrown  in,  that's  where  you  have 
the  pull. 

PRISONER:  You've  stood  and  watched  them?  Did 
you  ever  look  at  their  faces  ? 

WARDER:  Not  specially.  Did  you?  No,  no  need  for 
rape.  I'd  put  you  in  the  confidence  trickster  class. 
PRISONER  (quickly) :  What? 

WARDER  :  Oh,  I  know  you're  political,  otherwise  I'd 
say  that's  your  type. 
PRISONER:  Why  do  you  say  that? 
WARDER:  Hide  yourself  up  your  sleeve,  that's  your 
type. 

PRISONER:  Thirty-one  years'  experience.   You  must 
have  gone  on  serving  under  the  Occupation  then. 
WARDER:  'S  right. 

PRISONER:  Governments  may  come  and  go 

WARDER:  But  crime  goes  on  for  ever.  That's  the 
way  of  it. 

PRISONER:  And  what  are  you  guilty  of? 
WARDER:  Me?  I'm  in  the  prison  service. 
PRISONER:  "  Not  guilty." 


THE    PRISONER 

WARDER  :  Don't  be  silly,  of  course  not.  All  right,  you 
can  sit  down  now,  but  no  dropping  off,  mind.  Very 
strict,  your  Interrogator,  no  dropping  off,  no 
talking  to  no  one  but  me  and  him,  not  even  the 
doctor.  Psychology,  they  call  it.  Modern.  They  say 
he  always  gets  what  he  wants,  for  all  his  fancy  ways 
of  going  about  it.  Not  dropping  off,  are  you  ? 
PRISONER:  No.  Just  sitting  still.  Still  as  a  still-room 
maid,  without  face  or  occupation. 

[There  is  a  knock  on  the  door.  The  Warder,,  who  was  just 
crossing  to  it,  opens  it.~\ 

WARDER:  Hello,  company. 

[He  stands  for  a  moment  in  whispered  conversation  with 
someone  outside^  and  then  ushers  in  the  Doctor.  The 
Prisoner  is  asleep  in  his  chair.] 

Medical  examination.   Here ! 

PRISONER  (alert  quickly):  A  night  call,  doctor?  Am  I 
so  sick? 

WARDER:  No  talking  to  the  doctor.  No  talking  by 
anyone  to  anyone.  Orders. 

[The  Doctor  signs  to  the  Warder.  The  Doctor  examines 
the  Prisoner^ 

PRISONER:  Am  I  allowed  to  say  "ninety-nine"  to 
him?   What's  it  all  for?   I  was  examined  the  day  I 
was  arrested. 
WARDER:  Routine. 

PRISONER:  Routine?  In  the  middle  of  the  night? 
WARDER:  Lot  of  work  done  at  night  here. 
PRISONER:  So  I've  noticed.  .  .  .  Oh,  I'm  due  for  a 
long  spell  of  interrogation  on  end,  is  that  it  ?   We 

2  33 


ACT    ONE,    SCENE    TWO 

haven't  had  that  yet.  You  start  at  two  in  the  morning, 
when  resistance  is  at  its  lowest,  and  finish  up  about 
two  tomorrow  morning,  by  which  time  it  should  be 
lower  still.  And  I'm  not  to  die  on  your  hands  before 
Fve  said  anything  to  cover  you.  Yes.  I  shouldn't 
worry,  doctor. 

[He  puts  on  an  elaborate  bedside  manner^ 

The  pulse  fairly  regular  .  .  .  that  little  flutter's 
not  anything  to  be  alarmed  about,  it's  caused  by  the 
natural  human  impulse  of  fear,  you  often  find  it 
among  cases  under  threat  of  torture — physical  or 
mental — and,  of  course,  death,  just  a  simple  reflex, 
uncontrollable,  but  not  at  all  serious.  .  .  .  The 
heart's  very  sound,  yes,  very  sound  indeed — I  hope. 
Lungs  quite  all  right,  nothing  to  worry  about  there. 
Continuous  confinement  is  not  usually  recommended, 
of  course,  particularly  if  the  quarters  are  at  all 

damp 

WARDER:  Here,  let  me  tell  you,  there  isn't  a  damp 
cell  in  this  prison!  And  you're  not  supposed  to  be 
talking  to  the  doctor. 

PRISONER  :  He's  talking  to  me.  Didn't  you  recognise 
his  bedside  manner? 

\The  Doctor  signs  to  him  to  cross  his  knees.  He  tests  bis 
reflexes.} 

No.  No  sign  of  hysterical  paralysis — though  it's  not 
a  bad  idea  at  that.  Tell  me — have  you  examined  the. 
Interrogator?  Because  if  I'm  in  for  a  long  session — 
so  is  he. 

Curtain 
34 


THE    PRISONER 

Scene  3 

Scene:  The  Interrogation  R.OOM* 
Time:  Night. 

The  Prisoner  is  leaning  back  in  his  chair \  tired,  but 
physically  relaxed.  The  Interrogator^  in  shirtsleeves.,  with 
his  coat  over  the  back  of  his  chair \  is  restless  at  his  desk> 
and  shows  the  effect  of  nervous  strain  more  than  does  the 
Prisoner.  The  interrogation  room  Warder  sits  by  the  door, 
doling. 

INTERROGATOR:  Very  well  then.    Do  you  at  least 
admit  that  the  whole  weight  of  your  authority  must 
logically  be  directed  against  this  Government. 
PRISONER  :  Logic  is  a  system  of  avoiding  false  con 
clusions,  not  a  motive  for  action. 

\The  Interrogator  makes  a  violent  movement  of  irritation. 
The  Warder  starts^ 

You've  woken  the  management! 
INTERROGATOR:  I  don't  know  how  one  tries  the 
patience  of  a  saint,  but  for  a  saint  you  begin  to  have 
a  disastrous  effect  on  mine. 

PRISONER:  Rekx.  Even  though  you  sleep  between- 
whiles,  and  I'm  not  allowed  to,  you  can't  keep  it 
up — on  the  edge  of  your  chair.  You  want  what  you 
want  too  badly  and  too  soon.  An  interesting  boyish 
•  quality. 

INTERROGATOR  (mildly):  Now  lay  off  me.  Warder, 
black  coffee,  strong.  And  tell  them  to  keep  a  brew 
going. 

\The  Warder  goes. \ 

35 


ACT    ONE,    SCENE    THREE 

Where  did  you  learn  the  trick  of  it?    Yogi?    or  a 

circus  ? 

PRISONER:  My  first  curacy. 

INTERROGATOR:  Whatever  for? 

PRISONER:  Stage  fright.   I  was  always  sick  before  I 

went  into  the  pulpit. 

INTERROGATOR:  You  were?   A  human  weakness. 

PRISONER:  The  old  parish  priest  taught  me  how  to 

relax  for  ten  minutes  beforehand  in  the  sacristy.  It's 

a  trick.  You  - 

INTERROGATOR  :  Why  were  you  sick  before  you  went 

into  the  pulpit  ? 

PRISONER  (briskly]  :  I've  no  idea. 

INTERROGATOR:  Mm.  No  idea.  A  weakness.  That's 

the  way  if  only  we  can  find  it  —  the  human  weakness, 

the  chink  in  the  plate  armour.    You've  told  me  the 

strength  of  your  defences  —  we  should  save  more 

of  the  small  hours  of  these  long  nights,  my  dear 

Cardinal,  if  you  would  help  me  to  the  weakness. 

[The  Warder  returns  with  a  tray  of  coffee  things,  which  he 
takes  to  the 


Plate  armour.  It  isn't  even  that,  you  know.  It's 
chain  mail,  a  clattering  skin  of  linked  weaknesses,  all 
holes  just  twisted  together.  It's  the  using  of  flails 
and  battle-axes  that's  a  mistake.  The  fine  point's 
what's  needed.  Not  even  a  rapier.  A  bodkin.  That's 
why  the  women  win. 

[The  Warder,  from  where  he  is,  can  see  the  'Prisoners 
face,  which  the  Interrogator  can't.  He  looks  up  quickly  at 
the  Interrogator^ 

Well?  Oh,  is  he? 

[He  puts  out  a  band  to  stay  the  Warder  from  waking  the 
36 


THE    PRISONER 

Prisoner.  He  himself  presses  the  Prisoner  lightly  behind 
the  ear>  speaking  as  he  does'  so,] 

What  are  you  afraid  of? 

PRISONER:  Thank  you.  Very  refreshing. 

\The  Warder  sniffs  loudly,,  then  goes  back  to  his  chair. 
The  Interrogator  pours  out  coffee} 

Coffee? 

PRISONER:  Thank  you.  No. 

\The  Interrogator  takes  the  glass  from  the  water  carafe.} 

INTERROGATOR:  From  the  same  pot  as  I  use  myself, 

from  a  gkss  you've  used  before  ? 

PRISONER:  Fve  been  asleep  since  I  last  drank  from 

it. 

INTERROGATOR:  Oh,  you  keep  your  wits  about  you, 

with  your  eyes  shut. 

[He  pours  some  coffee  from  his  own  cup  into  the  glass., 
drinks  from  it,  and  fills  up  both  glass  and  cup  from  the  pot. 
He  holds  out  the  cup} 

Some  coffee,  your  Eminence? 

PRISONER:  Oh.   Thanks.   (He  takes  it.)   My  health. 

\They  both  drink} 

INTERROGATOR:  Afraid  I  shall  slip  you  the  "truth 

drug  "  ? 

PRISONER:  For  instance. 

INTERROGATOR  :  I  know  the  truth  already. 

PRISONER:  I  was  forgetting.    It's  a  confession,  not 

the  truth,  we're  after, 

37 


ACT    ONE,    SCENE    THREE 

INTERROGATOR  :  Oh,  I  could  drug  you  into  stumbling 
out  some  form  of  words  that  had  been  forced  into 
your  mind.    Old  tricks,  and  the  foreign  correspon 
dents  wouldn't  be  any  more  impressed  than  they 
would  by  our  sawing  a  lady  in  half. 
PRISONER:  Older  methods  ? 
INTERROGATOR:  Racks  and  thumbscrews? 

[The  Prisoner  holds  up  his  hands  and  turns  them  about.} 

PRISONER:  Old,  but  not  so  long  outdated. 

[The  Interrogator  looks  at  his  hands  and  then  at  his  own.] 

INTERROGATOR:  They  never  caught  me.  .  .  .  You 
know,  I'd  give  anything  for  it  not  to  be  you  that 
j 

PRISONER:  Oh,  don't  apologise. 

INTERROGATOR  (goaded) :  Well,  you  might  be  broken 

now.    You're  an  older  man  that  you  were,  you've 

lived  in  the  odour  of  popular  esteem  since  the  war, 

which  is  as  enervating  as  a  hot  bath.   But  confession 

from  a  broken  body  seldom  looks  really  spontaneous, 

so  we  shan't  be  trying  that. 

PRISONER:  My  dear  man,  if  you  really  meant  that 

you'd  never  be  fool  enough  to  relieve  me  of  even  the 

fear  of  pain.  Come  now 

INTERROGATOR:  Who  do  you  think  you're  dealing 
with?  Some  mad  sadistic  moron  in  the  Gestapo? 
Some  filthy  butcher  with  power  to  play  with  flesh 
and  blood  for  his  lust?  I  tell  you  even  the  sight  of 
physical  exhaustion  after  these  sessions  revolts  me  so 
that  Fm  sick.  I  wouldn't  have  you  touched,  I  was  a 
doctor  before  ever  I  was  a  lawyer,  your  body  is 
sacred  to  me.  I  wouldn't  even  have  you  sit  there  and 
think  of  the  possibility  of  pain  at  my  suggestion. 

38 


THE    PRISONER 

PRISONER:  You're  speaking  the  truth,  I  believe.   No 
drugs,  no  torture  ?  What  can  you  hope  for  ? 
INTERROGATOR:  Conversion. 
PRISONER  :  And  yet  you're  not  mad. 
INTERROGATOR:  No.  And  Fm  right.  You're  wrong, 
and  you're  dangerous  because  you  mislead  the  poor, 
the  uneducated,  and  the  silly.    Sentiment  may  drive 
me  to  regret  that  it  has  to  be  done,  but  sentiment 

won't  be  allowed  to  stop  me 

PRISONER:  To  stop  you ? 

INTERROGATOR  :  — getting  in  the  end  a  free  and  open 
confession  that  will  dispel  the  black  magic  of  your 
name  and  wreck  your  mistaken  cause,  at  home  and 
abroad,  a  confession  made  in  public  by  you,  your 
self,  you,  whole  in  body  and  in  mind.  It's  your  mind 
we  want. 

PRISONER:  I'm  a  fool  to  admit  it,  but  for  the  first 
time  since  I  came  into  your  prison,  I'm  afraid. 
INTERROGATOR  :  You  think  of  prison  as  the  rack,  in 
one  form  or  another.    It's  stupid  of  me  to   get 
annoyed  because  you  think  of  me  as  the  inquisitor. 
PRISONER  :  How  do  you  expect  me  to  think  of  you  ? 
INTERROGATOR  :  As  your  doctor.  To  me,  you're  on  a 
couch  in  my  consulting  room.  You're  an  enemy  of 
society,    but    only   because   you're    wrong-headed. 
You're  dangerous,  like  the  schizophrenic  or  the 
paranoiac  can  be,  but  we  can  get  to  the  root  of  the 
trouble  and  you  can  be  cured. 
PRISONER:  You  can  cure  me? 

INTERROGATOR:  I'm  trained  in  the  skill  that  this  age 
has  developed  more  than  any  other — the  medical 
knowledge  of  the  human  mind.  And  then  there's 
yourself,  you're  not  like  a  voluntary  patient  who 
wants  at  heart  to  co-operate — and  that  makes  it  more 
difficult — in  the  early  stages.  But  we  shall  get  to  the 
heart  of  it  in  time.  In  time.  Science  must  succeed. 

39 


ACT    ONE,    SCENE    FOUR 

PRISONER  :  You  believe  it.  ... 

INTERROGATOR:  Yes.  I  do  believe  it. 

PRISONER:  God  give  me  cunning  against  your  skill. 

God  keep  my  watch. 

Curtain 


Scene  4 

Scene:  The  Cell. 
Time:  Night.     • 

The  Prisoner,  dressed  in  a  shirt,  without  dog-collar,  stands 
leaning  against  the  wall,  his  eyes  shut.  He  recites  from 
the  'Psalms  monotonously  in  an  effort  not  to  think. 

PRISONER:  "Consider  and  hear  me,  oh  Lord  my 
God,  lighten  my  eyes  lest  I  sleep  the  sleep  of  death 
.  .  .  lest  mine  enemy  say:  I  have  prevailed  against 
him."  (Louder,  shouting  down  his  thoughts.)  "  Rejoice 
not  against  me,  O  mine  enemy:  when  I  fall  I  shall 
rise,  when  I  sit  in  darkness  the  Lord  shall  be  a  light 
to  me." 

[The  door  opens  and  the  cell  Warder  comes  in,  yawning. 
The  Prisoner  prepares  to  follow  him.] 

(Reciting  words  of  habit  rather  than  prayer)  "  Set  a 
watch,  O  Lord,  before  my  mouth,  keep  thou  the 
door  of  my  lips." 

[The  Warder  signs,  and  is  followed  into  the  cell  by  the 
Barber,  another  professional,  whose  salon  habits  are 
unaffected  by  his  present  milieu^\ 

40 


THE    PRISONER 

Another  medical  inspection?    What's  this?    Am  I 
mad,  or  is  he  ? 

[The  Barber  sets  about  his  preparations  with  elaboration.] 

WARDER:  You  are,  or  you'd  tell  your  Interrogator 

whatever  it  is  he's  after,  and  give  us  all  a  proper 

night's  sleep. 

PRISONER:  A  barber?  Execution. 

WARDER:  Lord,  we  don't  shave  'em  to  hang  'em! 

Come  on,  come  on. 

[He  hustles  the  Prisoner  into  the  chair.] 

PRISONER:  Why,  then? 

WARDER:  Look,  if  you  were  going  to  be  hanged, 
which  you  aren't — or  not  tonight,  anyhow — you 
couldn't  put  it  off  by  refusing  to  be  shaved.  A 
corpse  looks  silly  enough  with  a  rope  round  its 
neck,  believe  me,  without  wondering  whether  its 
chin's  a  bit  blue.  Special  orders,  this  is. 
PRISONER:  There'll  be  no  tip,  I'm  afraid. 

\The  Barber  sets  about  shaving  the  Prisoner.] 

Safety  razor,  I  notice.  For  his  protection,  though,  I 

suppose,  rather  than  mine. 

WARDER  (yawning) :  'S  right. 

PRISONER:  Disappointing  weather.   Well,  and  what 

do  you  make  of  our  new  government,  Alfonse  ? 

]The  Barber  is  startled  and  his  hand  jerks] 

Oh,  Alfonse!  You've  cut  me! 

[T6e  Barber  applies  lotion  and  cotton  mol^  much  agitated^ 


ACT    ONE,    SCENE    FOUR 

WARDER:  Well,   it's  your   own  flaming  fault.    Oh 
God,  now  you've  upset  him  and  he'll  be  hours.   You 
did  that  on  purpose. 
PRISONER:  Sorry,  Alfonse. 

\There  is  a  knock  on  the  door.  The  Warder  goes  to  open  it] 

WARDER  :  It's  his  perfession  to  turn  you  out  looking 
proper. 

[He  unlocks  the  door.  The  interrogation  room  Warder 
appears  with  a  clean  collar,  a  bottle  of  cleaning  spirit.,  and 
a  clothes  brush.  He  gives  the  collar  to  the  cell  Warder 
and  looks  about  him] 

PRISONER:  A  clean  collar! 

WARDER:  Here,  get  up  a  minute.   Oh,  get  out  from 

under  my  feet,  Alfonse. 

[He  gets  the  cassock  from  where  it  is  lying  over  the  chair 
on  which  the  "Prisoner  has  been  sitting,  and  gives  it  to  the 
other  Warder ',  who  starts  cleaning  it.] 

PRISONER:  What's  all  this  about.  Last  time  I  saw  my 
friend  the  Interrogator  he  was  a  bit  blue  about  the 
chin  himself.    It's  a  new  man!    They've  changed 
him!  Tell  me,  tell  me,  have  they  changed  him? 
WARDER:  What?  No,  no.   Same  man. 

\The  Prisoner  is  relieved,  though  he  is  not  jet  aware  himself 
of  his  growing  dependence  on  the  Interrogator] 

PRISONER:  Oh.  .  .  . 

WARDER:  Now,  how  does  this  damn  thing  work? 
(He  tries  to  help  with  the  collar?)  (To  the  other  Warder) : 
Never  mind  the  back,  man.  Brush  it. 

42 


THE    PRISONER 

PRISONER:  Wonderful  service  you  get  in  these  State 

hotels  nowadays.   What  is  it  all  for?   You  can't  be 

staging  the  trial  yet,  you  know— you  haven't  got  a 

confession. 

WARDER  :  And  whose  fault's  that  ? 

PRISONER:  A  visit!    Is  that  it?    The  foreign  press 

coming  to  see  how  I'm  being  treated  ? 

WARDER  :  Not  likely ! 

PRISONER  :  Well,  I've  no  consul  to  make  a  fuss  on  my 

behalf— this  is  my  own  dear  homeland — perhaps  the 

Vatican  ?  No,  you'd  hardly  lock  up  the  native  clergy 

and  then  let  a  Papal  Nuncio 

[The  Barber  nearly  trips  over  the  Warder.} 

WARDER:  All  right,  all  right,  Alfonse — that's  enough 
of  that.  Never  mind  that  cut,  he  won't  bleed  to 
death,  he's  not  scheduled  to  go  that  way. 

[With  dignify  the  Barber  collects  his  things] 

PRISONER:  Thank  you.   Thanks. 
WARDER  :  Come  on,  they're  waiting. 

[He  lets  the  Barber  out — and  then  helps  the  prisoner  into 
the  clean  shirt.] 

And  your  Interrogator's  in  a  black  rage,  let  me  tell 

you,  spitting  blue  blood. 

PRISONER:  Why    should    he    be    angry?      What's 

happening  ?  What  is  it  ? 

WARDER  (to  the  Prisoner.):     Seems  they're  upsetting 

his  schedule,  and  his  schedule's  scientific  and  theirs 

isn't.  Oh  God,  look  at  those  shoes.  Here,  got  a  rag  ? 

\The  other  Warder  hands  over  a  large  grubby  handkerchief. 
43 


ACT    ONE,    SCENE    FIVE 

The  cell  Warder  kneels  down  and  starts  rubbing  over  the 
Prisoner's  shoes.} 

They're  upsetting  my  schedule  too,  for  what  that's 
bloody  well  worth — my  night  off  duty. 
It's  the  high-ups  in  a  hurry.  Well,  any  political  of 
mine  looks  decent.  I'll  be  damned  if  they  don't,  any 
hour  of  the  day  or  night.   All  right,  bring  it  here. 

\The  other  Warder  brings  the  cassock,  and  the  Prisoner  puts 
it  on.] 

My  God,  all  those  buttons!    Well,  you'll  have  to 

do  them  up  as  we  go. 

PRISONER:  I  refuse  to  co-operate  by  doing  up  another 

button. 

\There  is  a  silent  battle  of  mils  ending  in  the  Warder 
buttoning^ 

Curtain 


Scene  / 

Scene:  The  Interrogation  ILoom. 
Time;  Night. 

The  room  is  in  darkness.  There  is  a  sound  of  laughter. 
The  interrogation  room  Warder  comes  in  and  switches  on 
the  light  and  the  Prisoner  and  the  Interrogator  come  in 
together,  laughing.  The  Secretary,  looking  extremely 
shocked,  follows.  The  Prisoner  is  still  carried  by  the  over- 
excitement  of  the  scene  he  has  just  been  through,  but  reaction 
is  near. 

INTERROGATOR:  No,  that  was  wonderful!   That  was 
44 


THE    PRISONER 

really  wonderful!  I  wouldn't  have  missed  it  for  the 
world. 

PRISONER:  Well,  I  wouldn't  quite  say  that,  perhaps, 
but  it  was  worth  a  lot.   Their  faces ! 
INTERROGATOR:  Hey,  look  at  Stephen's  face  now! 
PRISONER:  Oh,  my  dear  boy,  cheer  up!   It  was  their 
own  fault,  you  know,  they  asked  for  it.  Confronting 
me  publicly  in  the  middle  of  the  night  with  enough 
badly  faked  evidence  to  make  a  laughing  stock  of  the 
police  department  for  months. 

INTERROGATOR:  I  warned  them!  I  was  furious  when 
they  demanded  to  have  the  show  put  on.  At  about 
two  hours'  notice,  too. 

PRISONER:  What?  It  must  have  taken  days  to  get  all 
that  nonsense  together ! 

INTERROGATOR  :  Days  ?  They've  been  working  on  it 
for  months,  poor  darlings ! 
PRISONER:  Oh,  dear! 

INTERROGATOR:  Those  maps!  And  that  lovely 
photograph  of  the  secret  arsenal  they'd  so  carefully 
planted  for  you  in  the  Cathedral  crypt ! 
PRISONER:  And  I  went  and  remembered  that  the 
date  they'd  hit  on  to  say  they'd  found  the  place 
bristling  with  guns  was  the  feast  of  St.  Fontenal,  the 
one  day  in  the  year  when  the  crypt  is  open  to  the 
public. 

INTERROGATOR:  Cigarette?  I've  never  seen  two  Field 
Marshals,  three  Ministers  and  a  Judge  all  looking  so 
silly  at  the  same  time.  Lord,  if  the  dear  public  had 
seen  them. 

PRISONER:  Why  did  they  suddenly  want  to  do  it? 
INTERROGATOR:  Oh,  it's  the  old  business — you  con 
front  the  prisoner  with  a  mass  of  irrefutable  evidence 
against  him,  in  the  presence  of  overpoweringly  im 
portant  people,  and  he  realises  his  only  chance  is  to 
throw  himself  on  their  mercy  by  pleading  guilty. 

45 


ACT    ONE3    SCENE    FIVE 

PRISONER:  It  is  behind  that  rafter,  isn't  it — the 
microphone?  And  the  switch  under  the  rim  of  your 
desk 

[The  Interrogator  obligingly  switches  it  on  and  off.  They 
both  laugh.} 

The  fake  confession  on  the  tape  recorder  was  the  part 
I  liked  best.  I'm  sorry  I  had  to  run  such  rings  round 
the  way  you  joined  the  bits  together,  Stephen,  to 
make  a  confession  out  of  flat  denials — but  honestly, 
you'd  have  looked  far  sillier  producing  a  botched  up 
job  like  that  in  open  court. 

INTERROGATOR:  Now,  that's  very  unsporting  of  you. 
You  know  it's  against  the  regulations  for  the  poor 
boy  to  answer  you  back.  All  right,  Stephen — run 
along. 

[The  Secretary  goes — the  Warder  remains  by  the  door.] 

PRISONER:  You  don't  feel  what  a  strain  the  excite 
ment's  been  till  it's  over.  Tell  me,  though,  weren't 
you  moving  some  of  my  pieces  in  the  game  this 
evening  ?  I  felt  as  though  we  were  both  playing  on 
the  same  side. 

INTERROGATOR:  Well,  I  was  so  damned  angry  with 
them.  Suddenly  wanting  to  put  the  pressure  on 

because  of  some  footling  crisis  or  other 

PRISONER:  What  crisis? 

INTERROGATOR  :  — and  insisting  they  could  do  more 
in  an  hour  than  has  taken  us  months,  with  their  box 
of  child's  tricks  and  antique  police  laboratory  fakes ! 
You  told  them  why  they  wouldn't  get  all  that  non 
sense  past  the  foreign  journalists,  but  my  God,  I'd 
already  told  them  they  wouldn't  even  get  it  past  their 
own  illiterate  followers ! 

46 


THE    PRISONER 

PRISONER:  Well,  I  don't  suppose  they  liked  that. 
Do  they  trust  you  ? 

INTERROGATOR:  Fools  .  .  .  that's  what  you  get  if 
you  join  a  movement  from  the  wrong  side  of  the 
fence — imbecile  suspicion.  Well,  I  wasn't  born  one 
of  them,  but  I  give  them  all  I  can.  I  give  them 
absolute  devotion.  Why  not  use  it?  Why  not  use  my 
skill?  My  brain  can  serve  them  better  than  their 

text  books.  My  brain 

PRISONER  :  — is  consumed  with  intellectual  pride. 

\The  Interrogator  laughs  and  relaxes.} 

I  hope  for  your  sake  the  microphone  was  switched 
off  for  that  little  outburst.  Shall  I  get  some  sleep 
tonight?  You  and  I — how  odd  it  is,  a  kind  of  bond's 
growing  between  us.  I  suppose  it  only  comes  of  no 
one  else  being  allowed  to  speak  to  me,  but  to  me  you 
seem  like  the  only  real  human  being  in  a  world  of 
shadows. 

INTERROGATOR:  You  were  beginning  to  think  that, 
were  you  ?  Oh,  God,  the  fools. 
PRISONER:  I   don't  know,   I'm   tired,  perhaps  I'm 
starting  to  play  your  game,  but  I  could  have  sworn 
you  were  playing  mine  tonight. 

\Tbe  Secretary  comes  in  with  a  note  for  the  Interrogator,  who 
reads  it.] 

\The  Secretary  confers  with  him  in  a  whisper.] 

What  ?  I  tell  you  I  won't  have  it — oh,  come  outside. 

\The  Warder  closes  the  door  behind  them  as  they  go  out. 
The  Prisoner  tries  to  rest  while  talking  for  the  benefit  of  the 
vigilant  Warder] 

47 


ACT    ONE,    SCENE    FIVE 

PRISONER:  No,  I  shan't  sleep.  Not  till  I  know  what 
the  next  move's  to  be.  Chess.  Chess,  you  know — 
game  with  figures  of  painted  ivory,  red  and  white — or 
black,  of  course — I'm  black.  He's  got  all  the  knights 
and  castles,  and  I've  only  the  king's  bishop  left.  Not 
even  a  bishop,  really.  Not  a  proper  chess  man  at  all. 
(He  is  dropping  asleep.)  Not  asleep.  Still  talking. 
Still  playing  chess  with  my  friend. 

[The  Interrogator  comes  back  into  the  room  with  the 
Secretary^ 

INTERROGATOR:  I'll  stop  them 


[He  goes  to  the  telephone ',  but  as  he  approaches  it,  it  rings.] 

Yes.  .  .  ?  Speaking,  speaking.  .  .  .  Damn.  .  .  . 
I  said  "  damn  ",  and  you  can  tell  them.  .  .  .  All 
right.  .  .  .  (He  hangs  up.)  (To  Stephen.)  Too  late, 
they're  here.  Go  on.  (To  Warder.)  Get  out  there, 
they'll  need  you. 

[The  Secretary  and  the  Warder  go,  leaving  the  door  ajar.] 
(Gently.)  Wake  up.  (Harshly.)  Wake  up! 

[Two  Warders.,  carrying  a  coffin  on  their  shoulders.,  come  in. 
During  the  ensuing  scene,  dawn  lighting  is  brought  up. 
The  Interrogator  turns  his  back  for  a  moment,  and  then, 
interest  overcoming  revulsion,  be  watches  the  Prisoner  as 
the  men  set  down  the  coffin.] 

PRISONER:  Into  thy  hands,  O  Lord,  I  commend  my 
spirit.  I  am  tired.  I  hadn't  let  myself  feel  how  tired. 
Shall  I  be  allowed  time  to  pray? 

[The  Interrogator  signs  to  the  two  Warders.  One  goes 
out — leaving  only  the  regular  man  by  the  door.] 

48 


THE    PRISONER 

INTERROGATOR:  This  is  not  your  death. 

PRISONER:  Not  death?   You  must  give  me  time  to 

take  that  in.  I  let  my  mind  feel  how  tired  it  was,  and 

now  it  won't.  What  must  I  do  now? 

INTERROGATOR:  My  orders  are  that  you  open  the 

coffin. 

PRISONER  :  Open  it  ? 

INTERROGATOR:  Lift  the  lid. 

PRISONER:  You  don't  like  your  orders. 

\The  Prisoner  lifts  the  lid  of  the  coffin.  Shivly  be  raises 
his  head^\ 

My  mother.  My  mother.  How  old  she  looks.  Old 
and  innocent.  ILequiem  aeternam  dona — I  never  learned 
to  pray  for  her.  I  never  could  pray  for  her. 
Oh,  God,  let  me  pray.  (He  kneels  by  the  coffin.  He 
prays  the  words  of  habit >  his  mind  elsewhere.)  Out  of  the 
depths  have  I  cried  to  thee,  O  Lord.  Lord,  hear  my 
prayer.  Let  thine  ears  be  attentive  to  the  voice  of 
my  supplication,  and  let  my  cry  come  unto  thee. 
If  thou,  O  Lord,  shall  be  extreme  to  remark  what 
is  done  amiss  .  .  .  what  she  did  amiss  .  .  .  her 
sin.  .  .  . 

INTERROGATOR:  It's  your  mother.  Shouldn't  you 
bless  her? 

PRISONER:  I,  bless  her?  (Coming  back  to  the  present 
and  realising  he  is  being  watched.)  Yes,  of  course. 
She's  dead.  (He  touches  her  in  blessing)  Warm.  She's 
still  quite  warm.  (He  gets  up  and  backs  awaj.  Then 
suddenly  he  turns  on  the  Interrogator.)  She's  only  just 
dead.  It  was  because  I  played  at  being  cleverer  than 
you  all  just  now  that  you  did  it.  You  killed  her,  L 
never  wished  her  death,  it  wasn't  my  doing,  it 
wasn't  my  fault,  I  never  knew  anything  of  it ! 
INTERROGATOR  (interested) :  No.  ,  .  ? 
PRISONER  (quickly) :  And  you  killed  her,  the  doctor  to 

49 


ACT    ONE,    SCENE    FIVE 

whom  my  body  was  so  sacred.  Let's  talk  of  that.  My 
body  was  of — was  of — that  flesh  1 
INTERROGATOR:  Well? 

PRISONER:  Of  that  flesh!  I  am  admitting  it,  do  you 
hear?  We  were  of  the  same  flesh,  she  and  I!  When 
you  had  her  killed,  you  killed  part  of  my  life.  You 
said  you  wouldn't  have  a  hair  of  mine  touched — if 
it's  only  to  shame  you  I'll  claim  my  body  and  hers  are 
one.  I  am  her  son,  the  child  of  her  womb,  look  how  I 
kiss  her  hand!  The  pulse — the  pulse — she's  alive! 
(He  drops  the  hand  and  backs  away  again.) 
INTERROGATOR:  Yes,  alive,  only  anaesthetised.  Why 

did  you  say 

PRISONER  (himself  again):  Anaesthetised?  Why? 
INTERROGATOR:  Part  of  the  system.  This  is  supposed 
to  work. 

\The  Prisoner  is  dragging  from  the  coffin  the  inert  for *m  of 
the  little  old  woman,  in  its  provincial  working  class  best 
clothes,  and  he  props  it,  lolling  ludicrously,  on  a  chair.  Pie 
slaps  the  hands  and  face  and  hurries  to  get  the  water  carafe '.] 

PRISONER  :  Her  heart  may  give  out  if  you  leave  her 

under  too  long. 

INTERROGATOR:  You  can't  do  anything.  Two  hours, 

another  two  hours  at  least  before  she  comes  round. 

PRISONER:  It  won't  be  my  fault  if — You  must  have 

known  if  I  touched  her  I'd  find  out.   Why  did  you 

make — let  me  touch  her? 

INTERROGATOR:  Part  of  the  system. 

PRISONER:  Shock  tactics.  I  was  meant  to  realise  she 

was  alive?  Why?   She's  supposed  to  be  someone  I 

love 

INTERROGATOR:  Supposed? 

PRISONER:  Someone  I  love.  Well,  then,  what  now? 

INTERROGATOR:  Well,  the  confession  is  ready  for 

signature. 

5° 


THE    PRISONER 

PRISONER:  The  confession.    Oh,  I  begin  to  see,    Or 

else? 

INTERROGATOR:  She  goes  to  hospital.    The  Cancer 

Hospital. 

PRISONER:  She  has  cancer? 

INTERROGATOR:  No. 

PRISONER:  I  don't  understand. 

INTERROGATOR:  The    Cancer    Research    Hospital. 

She  will  have  cancer. 

PRISONER:    Nol    If  it  were  a  dog,  it  would   make 

you  sick.  And  you  agree  to  this  ? 

INTERROGATOR:  She's  in  the  hands  of  the  police,  I 

have  no  power  there.    It's  only  you  who  are  my 

patient. 

PRISONER:  No  signature.  No  confession. 

INTERROGATOR:  You    are    to    have — she'll   have — 

twenty-four  hours. 

PRISONER:  No  signature.    I  should  be  glad  if  she 

might  be  taken  away,  unless  this  gives  you  particular 

interest. 

INTERROGATOR  :  I  could  have  her  left  in  your  cell. 

PRISONER:  And  in  an  hour  or  so  she'd  come  round, 

and  ask  me  what  I  condemned  her  to  ?  She  wouldn't 

even  try  to  plead  with  me.    (Bitterly?)    You  don't 

know  us,  my  mother  and  I. 

INTERROGATOR:  Too  proud  to  beg  of  me? 

PRISONER:  You  say  it's  not  in  your  province.    I 

hope  it's  not  in  your  province. 

INTERROGATOR:  No,  it's  not  in  my  province.  It's  in 

yours.  It's  you  who'll  condemn  her. 

PRISONER:  Yes. 

INTERROGATOR  :  I  could  tell  myself,  as  a  doctor,  other 

lives  might  be  saved,  other  pain  relieved  by  hers. 

Can  you  make  yourself  feel  humane  ? 

PRISONER:  No! 

INTERROGATOR:  I  told  them  it  wouldn't  work. 


ACT    ONE,    SCENE    FIVE 

hated  it,  but  at  the  worst  I  thought  I  might  learn  a 
little  about  you  from  it.  I  didn't  think  what  I  learned 
would  shock  me  so. 

PRISONER  (bitterly) :  Oh3  you  have  a  heart. 
INTERROGATOR:  Sentiment  is  a  weakness  I  have  to 
guard  against.   But  at  least  it's  human. 
PRISONER:  You  have  an  unnatural  monster  on  your 
hands :  I  do  not  love  my  mother  ...  I  never  have. 
If  your  orders  allow  it,  have  her  taken  away.   I  beg 
of  you — taken  away.    (He  sits,  his  had  turned  from 
her.} 

INTERROGATOR:  It  was  scarcely  even  a  temptation! 
I  was  afraid  it  would  lose  me  the  foothold  I'd 
gained  with  you.  I  didn't  think  it  would  be  I  that 
would  be  revolted.  I  was  getting  too  close.  I  was 
slipping  into  the  weakness  of  human  pity. 
PRISONER:  Were  you? 

INTERROGATOR:  Yours  is  a  mind  diseased.  At  all 
costs,  you  must  not  be  damned.  If  she  must,  your 
mother  can  die  of  pain — to  save  your  immortal  soul. 
You're  a  hard  man,  Eminence,  a  hard  man.  (He  goes 
to  the  door,  but  pauses  and  turns  back.}  No,  I  won't 
have  her  taken  away  yet.  I'll  keep  her  here  to 
remind  me,  not  you. 

[He  pushes  the  chair  with  the  corpse-like  figure  of  the 
woman  on  it  so  that  she  and  the  Prisoner  sit  facing 
side  by  side^\ 

I   was  beginning  almost  to   dislike  my  work. 
shan't  dislike  it  now. 


Curtain 


ACT  TWO 

Scene  i 

Scene:  The  Cell. 

The  window  is  shuttered.    There  is  a  bed  in  the  corner. 

The  Prisoner,  dirty  and  unshaven,  in  shirt  and  trousers  *,  is 
on  his  knees  polishing  the  floor  with  a  rag,  with  fanatical 
care,  reciting  rhythmically  as  he  rubs. 

PRISONER:  Three  nines  are  twenty-seven,  four  nines 
are  thirty-six,  five  nines  are  forty-five,  six  nines  are 
fifty-four,  seven  nines  are  sixty-three,  eight  nines  are 
seventy-two,  four  eights  are  thirty-two,  six  elevens 
are  sixty-six.  (He  pauses  in  his  polishing,  beginning  to 
think  in  spite  of  himself  }  Seven  elevens  are  —  seventy- 
seven.  (He  pulls  himself  together  and  polishes  again.} 
Nines.  Seven  nines  are  sixty  three,  eight  nines  are 
seventy-two,  nine  nines  are  eighty-one,  ten  nines  are 
ninety.  Once  ten  is  ten,  two  tens  are  twenty,  three 
tens  are  thirty.  Four  tens  are  forty,  five  tens  are 
fifty,  six  tens  are  sixty,  seven  tens  are  seventy  — 
ight  tens  are  eighty. 


\The  door  opens  and  the  cell  Warder  comes  in  with  a 
tray.} 

(Loudly}   Nine  tens  are  ninety.    What  happened  to 
you? 

WARDER:  Eh? 

PRISONER:  What  day  is  it?  How  long  is  it  since  you 

brought  me  food? 

[He  falls  on  the  food  almost  before  it  is  on  the  table.} 
WARDER  :  You're  fed  according  to  regulations. 
53 


ACT    TWO,    SCENE    ONE 

PRISONER:  Not  for  days — three  days.  Do  you  think 
I  can't  tell?  That's  why  they've  shuttered  the 
window,  isn't  it?  So  that  I  can't  tell,  to  frighten 

me 

WARDER:  It's  just  the  being  left  to  sleep  as  much  as 

you  like.    You  got  out  of  the  habit,  and  now  it 

muddles  you  up. 

PRISONER:  Are  you  trying  to  tell  me  it's  only  five  or 

six  hours  since  you  fed  me  last?    (He  is  bolting  the 

food) 

WARDER:  You  know  the  times  it's  due. 

PRISONER:  You're  lying.   (The  Warder  shrugs)  What 

do  you  gain  by  lying  to  me  ? 

WARDER:  'S   right.     What  would   I?    You're   fed 

according  to  regulations. 

PRISONER:  Fm  to  be  left  alone  for  weeks,  months — 

how  long  is  it  ?  Left  to  rot  in  a  mad  timeless  vacuum 

till  I'm  broken  ready  for  him  to  work  on  again.  And 

you're  in  the  game,  aren't  you  ?  It's  thirty-six  hours, 

isn't  it,  or  forty-eight,  since  you  fed  me  last? 

WARDER:  Can't  get  over  what  you're  doing  to  this 

floor. 

PRISONER:  How  long  is  it? 

WARDER  :  Jtf st  a  stone  floor,  and  it's  coming  up  like 

marble,  like  glass,  the  way  you're  doing  it.   I  must 

say  it's  a  nice  change — what  some  of  'em  will  do  to 

their  floors  would  suprise  you.   Tell  you  what,  I'll 

get  you  a  nice  tin  o'  polish,  how  would  that  be,  and 

a  proper  cloth.  Real  show  place,  you're  making  this. 

You  can  get  as  much  sleep  as  you  like  now,  though, 

you  know.  I  told  you  the  switch  is  working  in  here 

now.  What  do  you  dream  about,  eh  ?   Girls  ?  Had  a 

chap  once  in  solitary  a  long  time  used  to  take  a  mop 

to  bed  with  him  and  stroke  its  hair.  But  it  got  so  he 

ate  it  in  the  end,  and  they  took  him  away. 

PRISONER:  Am  I  not  going  to  see  him  again?   Are 

54 


THE    PRISONER 

they  just  going  to  leave  me  here  now?     No  trial, 

here  for  ever?  Is  that  it? 

WARDER:  Now  why  should  it  be? 

PRISONER:  It's  months  since  I've  seen  him. 

WARDER:  Mm.    Like  it's  days  since  breakfast.    (He 

begins  clearing  the  table?) 

PRISONER  :  It's  terrifying  the  way  I've  got  dependant 

on  him.  I  didn't  realize  it — he  could  stop  me  going 

mad,  don't  you  see?    I'm  no  good  to  them  mad, 

am  I?    Explain  that  to  them,  you  get  them  to  see 

that,  and  make  him  send  for  me  again. 

WARDER:  Now  then,  don't  you  start  fretting.   You 

say  some  of  that  everlasting  Bible  of  yours,  or  do 

your  sums. 

PRISONER:  Don't  go  yet.    What  time  will  you  be 

back?    If  I  could  make  a  sundial — if  the  window 

wasn't  boarded.  Wait.  Leave  me  that  jug.  A  water 

clock.  Look,  I'm  going  to  make  a  bag  with  a  corner 

of  the  blanket  and  time  how  long  the  water  takes  to 

pour  through.    I'll  know  next  time  you  leave  me 

alone  for  a  couple  of  days  like  that,  so  don't  you  try 

it  on  again. 

WARDER:  Now,  now,  you  know  I  can't  do  that, 

leaving  crockery  about  in  the  cells.  Come  on,  give  it 

here. 

\The  Prisoner  clutches  the  jug  to  him^\ 

PRISONER:  I  only  want  it  to  tell  the  time  with. 
WARDER:  Come  on,  now. 

PRISONER:  No,  I  want  it.  (He  catches  an  echo  of  the 
childish  indignity  of  the  situation.  With  an  effort.,  he  puts 
the  jug  quietly  on  the  tray?)  I  warn  you.  I  shall  make 
a  clock  somehow.  .  .  .  Something  running,  some 
thing  rolling,  something  round — a  stud,  (brushing 
past  the  Warder  he  hurries  to  his  cassock  'which  lies  over 
a  chair,  and  rips  off  a  button?)  Good.  Now  a  slope. 

55 


ACT    TWO,    SCENE    ONE 

[The  Warder  who  has  paused,  watching  him,  lifts  the  tray 
from  the  table.} 

It'll  need  a  gentle  but  quite  definite  slope.  The  table. 

[He  tries  to  prop  the  ledge  of  the  table  on  the  back  of  the 
chair.] 

WARDER  :  Cuckoo !  That's  what  you  want  for  a  clock, 
a  cuckoo !  My  Gran  had  one.  I  stuck  his  little  door 
up  so  he  couldn't  get  out,  and  you  could  hear  him 
inside,  whirring  away,  trying  to  fly  out.  I  thought 
he  was  alive!  Ttl  Kids!  Cuckoo!  (Laughing 
delightedly  at  his  amusingyouth — he  lets  himself  out.) 
PRISONER:  No  good  when  one's  asleep,  of  course,  but 
I'll  be  able  to  keep  a  check  on  you  in  the  daytime.  .  .  . 

[He  turns  and  realises  he  is  alone.,  and  coughs  in  an  em 
barrassed  way.  Feeling  his  pulse  with  one  hand,  he  sets  the 
button  rolling  from  the  top  of  the  table.  It  goes  much  too 
fast.  He  considers.,  and  has  another  idea.  He  puts  his 
folded  blanket  under  one  leg  of  the  table.  Now  the  button 
won't  roll  at  all.  He  drags  the  table  over  to  the  wall  and 
tilts  two  legs  against  it.  The  button  still  rolls  too  fast. 
He  starts  to  adjust  the  slope  and  then  suddenly  overthrows 
the  table  violently  and  stands  shuddering.  After  a  moment 
he  goes  over  to  the  bed  and  sits  down.] 

[After  a  moment  he  makes  as  though  to  kneel  and  then 
with  a  hopeless  sigh  gets  up,  takes  his  rag  and  starts  his 
rhythmic  polishing  of  the  floor,  stressing  the  rhythm  of  the 
words  heavily  \ 

In  principio  erat  verbum  et  verbum  erat  apud  Deum,  et 
Deus  erat 

[He  stops,  shocked  at  his  use  of  the  words.  He  starts  again, 
this  time  singing  or  hummingl\ 

56 


THE    PRISONER 

Dies  irae^  dies  ilia 
Solvet  saeclum  infavilla 
Teste  David  cum 

[He  stops  again  and  after  a  moment  gees  on  rubbing  without 
rhythm  in  silence.  He  hears  a  noise,  but  thinks  he  must 
he  wrong.  The  door  opens  and  the  Warder  appears  again 
with  a  fray.] 

(Whispering  hoarsely.}  A  trick.  It's  a  trick. 
WARDER:  Still  at  it?  My!   See  your  face  in  it  soon. 
PRISONER  :  What  time  is  it  supposed  to  be  now  ? 
WARDER:  Hey!  What  've  you  been  up  to  ?  Pick  it  up! 
PRISONER  (shouting):  No!   Not  till  you  tell  me  what 
time  it  is !  (Gets  a  grip  on  himself  and  sets  the  table  on  its 
legs.}  Look,  Fve  done  it.   How  long  is  it  since  you 
came  before  ? 

[The  Warder  puts  down  the  tray.  The  Prisoner  starts  to 
eat  automatically.] 

WARDER:  Twelve    o'clock    dinner,    eight    o'clock 

supper,  in  the  regulations.    You  work  it  out.    I 

just  do  what  I'm  told. 

PRISONER:  Eight  hours?   You  haven't  been  out  of 

this  cell  eight  minutes. 

WARDER:  Worked  up  a  pretty  good  appetite,  haven't 

you,  in  eight  minutes  ? 

PRISONER:  Well,  I  was  hungry,  I  hadn't  eaten  for 

three  days. 

WARDER:  Eight  minutes,  you  said. 

PRISONER:  You're  tricking  me,  you're  trying  to  fool 

me (He  clutches  at  the  Warder}. 

WARDER:  Now,  none  o'  that.  You  know  better 
than  that. 

PRISONER:  Tell  me  the  truth,  say  it  was  three  days 
before  and  only  ten  minutes  now — say  it 

57 


ACT    TWO,    SCENE    ONE 

[Hi?  shakes  the  Warder  who,  without  effort \  imprisons  his 
arms.} 

WARDER  :  Now,  you  don't  want  to  get  violent,  you're 
not  the  violent  sort.  That's  right.  Easy  now. 
PRISONER:  Are  you  doing  this  to  me,  or  am  I  going 
out  of  my  mind  ^ 
WARDER  :  Don't  ask  me. 
PRISONER:  You've  seen  prisoners  run  mad. 
WARDER:  'S  right.  - 
PRISONER  :  Like  me  ? 

WARDER:  It's  interesting.  Depends  how  much  store 
a  man  sets  by  his  wits — the  more,  the  easier  he  loses 
them.  A  man  that  sits  and  watches  his  mind  work — 
you  can't  leave  him  alone  five  minutes  in  the  dark 
without  him  frightening  himself  to  death. 
PRISONER:  The  Interrogator — he's  a  doctor,  he  can't 
want  my  mind  unhinged.  Can't  you  get  to  see  him  ? 
Ask  him — no.  Yes,  say  I  asked  him  to  see  me.  I 
won't  confess,  don't  let  him  think — yes,  even  let  him 
think  it,  I  can  take  care  of  that.  Ask  him,  beg  him,  to 
see  me  again. 

WARDER:  Just  ring  him  up,  I  suppose,  and  ask  you 
both  to  dinner  at  my  club.  .  .  ?  (He  takes  the  tray.) 
PRISONER  :  It's  what  he  wants,  what  he  wanted — the 
voluntary  patient,  the  man  on  the  psychiatrist's 
couch  who  wants  to  talk. 

WARDER:  Mm?  'S  right,  they  say  he  always  gets  what 
he  wants.  And  go  easy  with  the  furniture.  This  cell 
isn't  padded,  you  get  rough  and  you're  liable  to 
smash  things.  'Night.  Turn  the  light  out  when  you 
want.  Always  complain  at  first,  and  then  when  you 
say  they  can,  they  never  want  to.  Get  so  you  don't 
like  the  dark,  don't  you?  Well— 'night,  'night. 

]The  Warder  goes  out— the  Prisoner  continues  the  con 
versation  in  imagination^ 

58 


THE    PRISONER 

PRISONER:  "  Not  like  the  dark ?"  cc  My  good  fellow 

do  you  really  think  I'm  afraid  of  the "  "  My  good 

fellow " 

[He  looks  round  the  cell — as  though  he  might  forget  what  it 
looks  like — and  goes  to  the  light  switch.  He  switches  out 
the  light.  In  the  darkness  the  springs  of  the  iron  bedstead 
can  be  heard  creaking.  There  is  silence.] 

(Screaming.}  Quiet!   Quiet  I 

[The  light  is  sivitched  on  and  he  is  seen  clinging  to  the  switch, 
painting  as  though  he  has  been  running.  He  leans  against 
the  wall.} 

Save  us,  O  Lord,  while  we  wake,  and  keep  us  while 
we  sleep,  that  we  may  watch  with  Christ  and  sleep  in 
peace. 


Curtain 

Scene  2 

Scene:  The  Interrogation  TLoom. 
Time:  Day. 

Both  Prisoner  and  Interrogator  are  asleep.  The  Prisoner 
wears  shirt  and  trousers — no  cassock.  The  door  opens  and 
the  interrogation  room  Warder  comes  in.  The  Interrogator 
wakes  at  once,,  takes  a  quick  look  at  his  watch  and  at  the 
Prisoner^  and  stays  the  Warder  from  waking  him.  He  takes 
a  note  from  the  Warder  and  reads  it. 

59 


ACT    TWO,    SCENE    TWO 

INTERROGATOR:  No.  Tell  them  no;  they  had  their 
chance,  we're  playing  it  my  way  now.  And  ask  my 
secretary  to  come  down.  We'll  be  keeping  at  it; 
some  hours,  anyway. 

\The  Warder  salutes  and  goes  out.  The  Interrogator  looks 
down  thoughtfully  at  the  sleeping  Prisoner  and  then  walks 
away  from  him,  thoughtfully.  He  takes  a  bowl  from  the 
extra  desk  with  a  sponge  in  it,  which  he  holds  to  the  back 
of  the  'Prisoners  neck.} 

PRISONER:  No. 

\The  Interrogator  pours  a  glass  of  water,  which  he  gives  him] 

INTERROGATOR:  We're  making  progress,  you  know. 

PRISONER:  Thank  you.   I'm  sorry  you  should  think 

so. 

INTERROGATOR:  Oh,    not   with   the   arms   in    the 

Cathedral  crypt.   We're  getting  to  know  each  other 

better. 

PRISONER:  I've  known  no  one  else,  since  I  was  born, 

a  hundred  years  ago. 

INTERROGATOR:  Tell  me,  what  am  I  like? 

PRISONER  :  Any  scientist.  A  man  with  a  toy  too  big 

to  pky  with.    Can't  let  it  go,  but  frightened  of  it 

yourself  sometimes. 

INTERROGATOR:  As  a  man 

PRISONER:  One  who  might  have  been  a  friend. 
INTERROGATOR:  I    believe    you've   been   a   lonely 
devil.  You've  had  a  hard  life. 
PRISONER:  The  aristocrat  to  the  priest:   a  hard  life. 
Plenty  to  eat,  a  pen  or  a  breviary  in  soft  hands,  not  a 
pick  or  the  shudder  of  a  pneumatic  drill;    air — or 
incense — in  the  lungs,  not  coaldust  or  sulphur  fumes. 
You  and  I  shouldn't  insult  each  other  without 
sympathy — even  to  gain  that  friendship,  so  late. 

60 


THE    PRISONER 

INTERROGATOR:  Before  dawn  in  the  fish  market,  at 

ten  years  old 

PRISONER  :  But  warm  in  school  by  nine  o'clock,  with 

the  fat  fruits  of  my  scholarship. 

INTERROGATOR:  Charles — did  your  clothes  smell  of 

fish? 

\There  is  an  endless  pause. .] 

PRISONER:  Heavens,   that  it  should  rile  me   still! 
"Cod  guts  and  mackerel  blood!"    "Look,  there 
are  squashed  fish  eyes  sticking  to  his  boots!  " 
INTERROGATOR:  Dear  little  boys! 
PRISONER:  I  used  to  go  to  the  market  with  just  my 
overall  on  over  my  skin,  even  when  the  snow  was  up 
to  our  ankles  between  the  stalls.    And  I  washed! 
Lord,  how  I  washed !  I  used  to  save  up  and  buy  every 
new  brand  of  soap  I  saw  advertised.   I  burned  the 
skin  off  my  hands  with  disinfectants.    And  then: 
"  Sir,  must  I  sit  next  to  him?  He  stinks  of  fish." 
INTERROGATOR:  Our  happy  schooldays ! 
PRISONER:  Torment.  And  always  shame. 
INTERROGATOR:  Why? 

\The  door  opens  briskly  and  the  Secretary  bustles  import 
antly  /#.] 

God  damn  and  blast  you,  you  flaming  little  pest,  what 
in  hell's  name  do  you  mean  by  bursting  in  here  at  a 
moment  like  this.  .  .  .  Hold  it.  ...  Yes,  yes,  I 
did  send  for  you.  I  beg  your  pardon,  Stephen.  You 
interrupted  a  train  of  thought.  Please,  later.  I'll 
ring.  Tell  them  I'll  dictate  the  progress  report  later. 
Fm  sorry. 

\The  Secretary  goes.] 

61 


ACT    TWO,    SCENE   TWO 

PRISONER  :  And  it  was  only  Idle  gossip  he  interrupted, 
poor  chap — wasn't  it  ? 

INTERROGATOR:  I  should  have  thought  so.  What  was 
I  saying?  Weren't  we  talking  about  our  schooldays  ? 
PRISONER  :  My  schooldays. 

INTERROGATOR  :  I  was  only  waiting  my  chance  to  cut 
in. 

PRISONER:  Don't  tell  me  anyone  ever  cried  "  stink 
ing  fish!  "  after  you. 

INTERROGATOR:  No  one  called  anything  after  me.  I 
was  alone.  My  school-room  was  a  corner  of  the 
library,  because  my  tutor  was  too  lazy  to  move  away 
from  his  favourite  fire.  Winter  and  summer,  a 
roasting  fire  and  the  old  genius  dozing  over  his 
grubby  notes.  Hanetau,  the  historian. 
PRISONER:  Hanetau! 

INTERROGATOR  :  Lucky,  wasn't  I  ?  A  man  steeped  in 
Europe's  past.  How  I  hated  Europe's  past,  with  all 
the  future  racing  away  from  me!  I  got  my  grand 
father  to  let  the  village  schoolmaster  come  up  and 
teach  me  mathematics — not  that  he  knew  much,  poor 
scared  little  runt! — and  the  doctor  had  some  physics 
and  chemistry  he  hadn't  quite  forgotten. 
PRISONER:  Did  you  want  to  learn  so  much? 
INTERROGATOR:  I  wanted  to  break  out  of  the  past, 
and  twist  the  future  all  my  way.  I  was  a  clever  little 
devil,  I  could  run  rings  round  that  huddle  of  puzzled 
old  men;  I  though  Fd  run  rings  round  the  world,  if  I 
took  a  couple  of  degrees.  By  the  way,  I  noticed  an 
odd  thing  on  the  files :  you  won  a  scholarship  to  the 
University  at  a  fantastically  early  age,  and  yet  you 
never  took  it  up.  Why?  You  must  have  had  to  work 
yourself  sick  and  dizzy  to  get  up  to  that  standard  so 
young. 

PRISONER:  Black  coffee  at  night— an  alarm  clock 
under  my  pillow 

62 


THE    PRISONER 

INTERROGATOR:  You  started  early  to  do  without 

sleep.    You  should  have  warned  me.    But  after  all 

that,  why  didn't  you  go  through  with  the  University  ? 

PRISONER:  I  had  a  vocation  to  the  Priesthood. 

INTERROGATOR:  You   found   that   out    suddenly — 

between  sitting  for  the  scholarship  and  winning  it. 

PRISONER:  No,  I  had  always  known  it.    I  had  tried 

to  evade  it. 

INTERROGATOR:  Why? 

PRISONER:  That's  an  odd  question  for  a  layman, 

surely.  I  didn't  think  I  was  worthy. 

INTERROGATOR:  So  you  won  the  scholarship  and 

then  suddenly  overnight  you  found  yourself  worthy 

of  the  Priesthood  after  all. 

PRISONER:  No,  I  found  that  for  me — I  had  to  be  a 

priest. 

INTERROGATOR:  Why? 

PRISONER:  I  had  to.    I  had  to.    That  and  the  next 

step,  and  the  next,  all  my  life,  shirk  nothing,  duck 

nothing,  overcome  everything. 

INTERROGATOR:  Like  going  into  the  pulpit  without 

being  sick? 

PRISONER:  Without  even  feeling  it. 

INTERROGATOR:  Have  you  ever? 

PRISONER:  Never. 

INTERROGATOR:  Ashamed? 

PRISONER:  To  preach?  Why  should  I  be ? 

INTERROGATOR  (gving  it  up} i  Why  indeed?  IfFdled 

your  life,  I'd  preach  myself.    Well,  I  went  to  the 

University   instead    of  you — and  look   where   it's 

landed  us  both!   Forgive  me,  they'll  be  clamouring 

like  a  pack  of  hounds  for  their  confounded  report. 

(He  goes  fo  the  bouse  'phone.)  Three  one.  .  .  .  Stephen, 

if  you'll  be  good  enough.  .  .  .  Thank  you,   and 

bring  your  typewriter.    (He  hangs  up  and  goes  to  the 

window.)  A  lovely  day.  Come  and  look. 


ACT    TWO,    SCENE    TWO 

]The  Prisoner  joins  him  at  the  window.  The  Interrogator 
opens  it  and  the  Prisoner  breathes  deeply^ 

Lot  of  shipping  on  the  river.    With  these  spring 

floods  the  boats  seem  to  ride  above  the  streets.    I 

don't  think  you  can  see  the  roof  of  the  Cathedral 

from  here.  .  .  . 

PRISONER:  You   can   see  the   roof  of  the   Cancer 

Research  Hospital,  though. 

INTERROGATOR:  I   was   wrong  about  that,   wasn't 

I  ?  It  was  hard  for  you. 

PRISONER:  No,  not  as  you  mean  it.    Not  hard  to 

condemn  her.    You  knew  I  must  do  it.    Under  the 

Occupation  even  people  without  religion  or  belief 

learned  of  duties  above  human  relationships. 

INTERROGATOR:  Yet  you  found  it  hard  in  some  way 

I  don't  understand. 

PRISONER:  Not  hard  to  be  "heartless".     Terrible 

to  be  without  heart. 

INTERROGATOR:  You  wish  you'd  found  the  decision 

harder  to  make? 

PRISONER:  For  me,  the  hard  decision  would  have 

been  to  sign  the  confession  and  destroy  myself  and 

my  cause.   But  the  cause  was  God's,  not  mine.    I'd 

no  choice — except  to  torment  myself  with  it.  Is  there 

news  of  her? 

INTERROGATOR:  She's  alive — well.    Well  enough. 

PRISONER:  At  the  hospital?   God  forgive  them,  and 

me. 

\There  is  a  knock  at  the  door.  They  both  look  up9  sur 
prised.  Then  they  Iaugh.~\ 

INTERROGATOR:  Stephen,  knocking  at  the  door.  I 
must  have  scared  him  out  of  seven  years'  growth 
last  time.  Come  in ! 


THE    PRISONER 

[The  Secretary  stands  politely  framed  in  the  doorway.] 
Come  in,  Stephen,  I'll  dictate  it  now  and  get  it  over. 

[The  Secretary  glances  enquiringly  at  the  Prisoner  as  he 
opens  his  notebook^ 

That's  all  right.   Sit  down. 

[He  indicates  the  Prisoners  chair.  The  Prisoner  stares  out 
of  the  window  at  first \  then  turns  to  listen^ 

"  Interrogation  progress  report  " — what  is  it — 
sixty-three  or  something? — and  all  the  rest  of  it. 
Then :  "  No  progress  has  been  made  with  the  formal 
confession  drafted  hy  the  Police  Department.  The 
terms  of  that  confession  are  no  longer  being  con 
sidered  even  as  a  basis  for  questioning.  It  is  under 
taken  that  a  full  confession,  both  more  approprkte 
and  credible,  will  be  forthcoming  in  the  previously 
estimated  time.  The  prisoner  has  been  questioned  " 
— however  many  times  is  it — "  for  a  total  of " — 
however  many  hours  it  is — "  since  the  last  report." 
And  attach  the  latest  medical  report.  Type  it  down 
here,  would  you,  and  I'll  sign  it  right  away. 

[The  Secretary  goes  to  the  "  quiet "  typewriter  at  the 
extra  desk] 

Sorry  about  that.   Where  were  we? 

PRISONER:  Up  to  schedule,  apparently.    Why  am  I 

to  hear  all  this  ? 

INTERROGATOR:  Because  I  believe  what  I  say.    I've 

nothing  to  hide  from  you. 

PRISONER:  You  must  know  that  however  deep  you 

go  you'll  find  no — no  armaments  stored  in  the  crypt. 

5  65 


ACT    TWO,    SCENE    TWO 

INTERROGATOR:  I  know.    I'm  only  spying  out  the 

nakedness  of  the  land. 

PRISONER  :  I  ought  to  be  afraid. 

SECRETARY  (indicating  typewriter] :  Does  this  not  bother 

you,  sir? 

PRISONER  (oblivious  oftt):  Where  did  you  learn  it  all? 

INTERROGATOR  :  Cigarette  ? 

\The  Prisoner  takes  one,  looking  as  he  does  so  at  the  hand 
that  offers  it.} 

PRISONER:  Those    nervous     fingers    probing     the 

tissues  of  the  heart. 

INTERROGATOR:  Not  yet  the  heart.  When  you  touch 

the  heart 

PRISONER  :  It  stops  beating  ? 

INTERROGATOR:  Perhaps,  until  you  massage  it  back 

to  life.    (He  lights  cigarettes  for  both.}    Where  did  I 

learn  my  trade?  I  specialised  in  forensic  medicine  as 

a  doctor,  and  in  criminal  psychology  as  a  lawyer — 

I've  got  a  split  personality,  only  both  sides  have  the 

same  hobby. 

PRISONER:  Are  we  interesting,  the  criminal  classes? 

Are  we  numerous  ? 

INTERROGATOR:  The  whole  human  race. 

PRISONER:  Yours  must  be  a  lucrative  practice.    All 

of  us  guilty  of  something.,  like  the  warder  said 

\The  Secretary  brings  the  Interrogator  the  report  to  sign.] 

INTERROGATOR:   Oh,  thanks.  Much  good  may  it  do 

them.   We  know  you're  guilty — what  does  it  matter 

to  them  what  you  are  guilty  of? 

PRISONER:  Quite.    What?    What  did  you  make  me 

say  then  ? 

INTERROGATOR:  Sorry,  just  a  moment.   Stephen,  get 

66 


THE    PRISONER 

them  delivered  by  messenger  right  away,  would  you  ? 
And  don't  forget  the  medical  report. 

[The  Secretary  takes  the  papers  and  goes.} 

I  beg  your  pardon  ?  What  were  you  saying  ? 
PRISONER:  I  was  admitting  quite  casually  to  a  sense 
of  guilt. 
INTERROGATOR:  My  dear  fellow,  we  were  joking. 

You'll  be  getting  persecution  mania 

PRISONER:  Well.    If  a  man  in  gaol  isn't  entitled  to 

feel  persecuted  I  should  like  to  know  who  is.   Now 

what? 

INTERROGATOR:  Do  sit  down.  These  tiresome  forms. 

..."  Attitude  of  the  prisoner  to  the  working  man," 

it  says  here.  Your  first  curacy  was  in  a  working-class 

parish,  wasn't  it  ? 

PRISONER:  Saint  Nicholas. 

INTERROGATOR:  Saint  Nicholas?    Oh,  I  know  that 

district  well.    Rowdy  political  meetings  in  working 

men's  clubs  when  I  was  a  student.   Very  progressive 

and  matey  we  all  felt,  going  to  them — a  long  way 

from  old  Hanetau  by  the  library  fire!    So  you  were 

a  curate  at  Saint  Nicholas  ? 

PRISONER:  The  church  strategically  dominating  the 

Central  Railway  Viaduct  in  the  Police  Department's 

map. 

INTERROGATOR:    Noisy,    wasn't   it?     I   expect   the 

trains  punctuated  your  sermons  as  they  used  to  do 

my  speeches.    D'you  know,  it  always  sounded  to 

me  as  if  I  didn't  mean  what  I  said. 

PRISONER:  Didn't  you? 

INTERROGATOR:  Oh,  I  had  intellectual  conviction, 

but — talking  to  those  men — I  never  got  the  ring  of  it 

into  my  voice.   I  wanted  to  hold  them,  but  I  knew 

I  didn't  belong  among  them.  No,  the  background  for 


ACT   TWO,    SCENE   TWO 

me,  the  manipulation  of  truth,  not  the  preaching  of  it. 
PRISONER  :  The  manipulation  of  truth  1 
INTERROGATOR:  Well,  you  yourself  felt  sick,  preach 
ing  to  a  houseful  of  empty  stomachs :    "  Thou  shalt 
not  steal ". 

PRISONER:  That's  an  easier  text  for  the  poor  than 
for  the  rich — after  all,  they  wouldn't  be  poor  if  they 
didn't  practise  it. 

INTERROGATOR:  And  you  presumably  practised  it 
yourself. 

PRISONER:  Why  do  you  say  that?  What  makes  you 
say  that  ? 

INTERROGATOR:  The  habit  of  repartee,  I  think.  Does 
it  matter?  Were  you  living  a  lie  in  that  pulpit  of 
yours?  In  all  spiritual  pride,  my  friend,  you're 
trying  to  hoodwink  me.  When  did  you  steal? 
Years  before  ? 

PRISONER  (laughing  a  little) :  Not  so  very  long  before. 
I  was  very  young  in  that  pulpit. 
INTERROGATOR:  What  was  it?   Chocolate  at  school. 
No,  I've  got  it:   soap! 
PRISONER:  Books.    Books  for  those  exams.    Books, 

and  paper,  and  pencils 

INTERROGATOR:  You  poor  little  devil. 
PRISONER:  No.  I  used  to  look  down  into  those  faces. 
It  was  in  the  bad  days  of  unemployment.  The  faces 
of  the  women  mostly — women  who  weren't  stealing 
the  things  their  men  and  their  children  needed. 
INTERROGATOR:  You'd  needed  the  books. 
PRISONER:  Ambition,  not  need. 
INTERROGATOR:  Ambition's  a  hunger. 

PRISONER:  Besides 

INTERROGATOR:  What  besides? 

PRISONER:  I — used  to  take  the  best.     The   thick, 

shiny  paper,  and  the  pencils  out  of  the  threepenny 

tray. 

68 


THE    PRISONER 

INTERROGATOR:  And  be  damned  in  splendid  earnest! 

But  surely  you'd   "  confessed "   all  that   off  your 

conscience  by  then  ? 

PRISONER:  Oh,  yes.    Besides,  I  found  there  was  no 

need  to  see  the  faces.  You  could  look  between  them. 

INTERROGATOR  :  Do  you  never  look  into  the  eyes  of 

the  people  ? 

PRISONER:  Now?    Always.    One  must  learn  to  do 

these  things. 

[The  'phone  on  the  extra  desk  rings.] 

INTERROGATOR:  Blast!  Excuse  me.  (He  goes  to 
answer  //.)  Hullo.  .  .  .  Yes,  speaking.  .  .  .  Yes. 
General,  I  dictated  a  report  this  morning,  it'll  be 
on  its  way  to  you.  .  .  .  Still  in  the  diagnosis  stage. 
.  .  .  You  may  remember  that  when  you  tried  to 
rush  it  for  the  last  international  crisis,  you  very  nearly 
looked  the  most  conspicuous  ass.  .  .  .  Certainly 
the  prisoner's  here,  I'm  in  the  middle  of  an  interroga 
tion — where  do  you  expect  him  to  be  ?  No,  I  fancy 
he's  asleep,  he  has  a  gift  that  way.  ...  Not  at  all. 
Good  day,  General.  .  .  . 

[He  hangs  up  and  goes  over  to  the  Prisoner  who  is  asleep. 
He  looks  at  his  watch  and  sighs.  He  takes  the  sponge  and 
squeezes  water  over  his  own  wrists,  then  holds  it  to  the 
hack  of  the  Prisoner' V  neck.'] 

Talking  in  your  sleep ! 

PRISONER  :  What  did  I  say  ? 

INTERROGATOR:  Childhood — something  about  your 

mother. 

PRISONER:  What  was  it? 

INTERROGATOR:  Mm — hm.    I  didn't  catch  it.    I'm 

half  asleep  myself.  Come  on,  we'll  have  to  keep  each 

other  up. 


ACT    TWO,    SCENE    THREE 

[He  takes  the  "Prisoner's  arm  and  starts  to  stroll  with  him, 
arm  in  arm,  round  the  room.'} 

INTERROGATOR:  Tell  me  how  you  climbed  from  a 
curate  in  the  slums  to  the  dizzy  heights  in  Church  and 
State  you  occupy  today. 
PRISONER:  Today? 

\They  both  laugh  and  the  Interrogator  presses  the  'Prisoner' *s 
arm  as  they  stroll.} 

INTERROGATOR:  Well,  not  today,  perhaps — but  re 
cently;  and  tomorrow,  again.  Why  not? 

Curtain 


Scene  3 

Scene:  The  Interrogation  R.OOW. 
Time:  Night. 

The  Prisoner y  in  shirt  and  trousers  and  looking  dishevelled, 
is  struggling  hysterically  with  the  Interrogation  ILoom 
Warder.  The  Interrogator  watches. 

PRISONER:  I'll  kill  him— let  me  get  at  him. 

[In  obedience  to  the  uplifted  hand  of  the  Interrogator,  the 
Warder  is  careful  only  to  restrain  him.  'Eventually  his 
struggles  weaken  and  the  Warder  lowers  him,  exhausted, 
into  the  Interrogator's  chair,  where  he  lies  shaking  and 
gasping^ 

70 


THE    PRISONER 

INTERROGATOR:  Medical  Officer,  at  once. 
[The  Warder  glances  in  doubt  at  the  Prisoner \] 

No,  that's  all  right.  And  remind  him  of  the  regula 
tions  about  speaking  before  he  comes  in — with  my 
compliments,  of  course,  my  compliments. 

^The  Warder  goes.  The  Interrogator  goes  to  the  house 
''phone  into  which  he  speaks  quietly -.] 

Three  one.  .  .  .  Stephen.  .  .  .  Well,  blast  it,  go 
and  wake  him,  and  tell  him  forty-eight  hours.  I 
warned  them  to  have  everything  standing  by,  and 
then  I  can  only  guarantee  them  twenty-four  hours 
to  play  with.  Is  the  relay  of  stenographers  laid  on. 
.  .  ?  Right. 

[He  hangs  up  and  goes  to  the  Prisoner.  He  feels  Ms  pulse.] 

Come  now,  pull  yourself  together.    It's  only  that 

you've  been  talking  for  over  fifteen  hours.    The 

prison  doctor's  coming. 

PRISONER:  I  can't  keep  watch  any  more. 

INTERROGATOR:  No  need  to  be  on  guard  any  more. 

We're  beyond  that,  aren't  we?  We're  so  close,  you 

and  I,  you  might  as  well  try  to  be  on  guard  against 

yourself. 

PRISONER:  Feel  friendship  and  talk,  and  something 

knows  I  mustn't.  .  .  .  Have  I  said  anything? 

INTERROGATOR:  No.  .  .  . 

PRISONER:  About  the  Church? 

INTERROGATOR:  We're    only    talking    about    you. 

forget  the  rest.   Just  about  you — you  and  me.  Now, 

here's  the  doctor,  you've  just  been  a  little  faint 

\The  Warder  shows  in  the  Doctor.  The  Interrogator,  behind 


ACT    TWO,    SCENE    THREE 

the  Prisoner's  back,  lays  a  finger  on  his  lips.  The  Doctor 
nods  briskly  and  goes  to  the  Prisoner,  who  submits  limply. 
The  Doctor  feels  Ms  pulse,  looks  at  his  eyes.] 

Justfaintness,  talking  too  long.  The  doctor  will  give 
you  something.  That's  it. 

[The  Doctor  takes  something  from  the  case  the  Warder 
gives  him  and  fills  a  glass.] 

PRISONER:  Not  faintness.  I — lost  control.  Warder. 
I  hope  I  didn't  hurt  you.  Something  I  had  to  hold 
off.  ... 

INTERROGATOR  (to  Doctor):  The  last  kick — poor 
brute.  I  know  the  signs.  (To  Prisoner.}  That's 
right.  It's  all  right.  Drink  this. 

\The  Doctor  holds  the  glass  to  him?[ 

PRISONER  :  No,  nothing  in  this  room. 
INTERROGATOR:  Oh,  come  on,  now!    It's  all  right. 
Look — (He  drinks  from  the  glass  and  jives  it  to  the 
'Prisoner).    The  things   I   have  to   drink  for   you. 
Filthy,  isn't  it?  That's  right. 

[The  Interrogator  jerks  bis  head  quickly  to  the  Doctor 
who  makes  the  gesture  of  one  writing  a  report.  The  In 
terrogator  nods  impatiently  and  the  Doctor  goes.  The 
Warder  sits  by  the  door.  The  Interrogator  starts  a 
gesture  of  dismissal  and  then  turns  it  into  one  indicating 
absolute  quiet.} 

Better?    You  need  someone  to  talk-to-yourself  to, 
when  yourself  won't  listen.   Why  do  you  hate  your 
self.  I  know  you  and  I  don't  hate  you. 
PRISONER:  You  must. 


THE    PRISONER 

INTERROGATOR:  I  am  supposed  to,  but  I  can't.   You 

don't  love  your  fellow  men,  do  you? 

PRISONER:  No. 

INTERROGATOR:  Is  that  it?    Or  something  deeper? 

You've  no  delight  in  your  God,  have  you  ?  Nor  ever 

had? 

PRISONER:  No.    * 

INTERROGATOR:  Is    that   why   you   hate    yourself? 

Your  heroism  in  the  Resistance  was  only  to  convince 

yourself,  to  prove  yourself  to  yourself.   Why  should 

you  need  to  ?  What  must  you  keep  proving  ? 

PRISONER:  The  flesh  not  weak 

INTERROGATOR:  What  are  you  ashamed  of  ?  Women? 
PRISONER:  A  priest. 
INTERROGATOR:  Even  so? 
PRISONER:  No. 

INTERROGATOR:  Well,  before — before 

PRISONER:  Thank  God,  no. 

INTERROGATOR:  Not   round    the    corners    of  your 
mind.    Not  alive,  pulsing  in  the  dark,  not  veiled, 
drowned,  buried,  waiting? 
PRISONER:  No. 

INTERROGATOR:  You  think  your  life  was  a  facade. 
What  were  you  hiding?  Why  were  you  ashamed? 
PRISONER:  Unclean  flesh. 
INTERROGATOR:  Yes.  Yes? 
PRISONER:  My  body  of  her  flesh  and  blood. 
INTERROGATOR  :  Your  mother. 
PRISONER:  Filth  of  her  filth.  I,  me,  at  the  root  of  it, 
her  lust. 

INTERROGATOR:  Behind  the  Fish  Market.   A  prosti 
tute? 

PRISONER:  Not  even  for  money.    A  whore.    Not 
even  for  money,  for  lust. 
INTERROGATOR:  Yes. 
PRISONER:  Whelped  in  the  kennel.  Naked  lust.   Oh, 

73 


ACT    TWO,    SCENE    THREE 

I  put  a  scholar's  gown  on  it,  wrapped  it  in  a  cassock, 

pride  to  cover  it,  and  then  success  to  justify  the 

pride,   something,  always,  to  prove — what  wasn't 

there. 

INTERROGATOR:  Not  there.  No  love? 

PRISONER:  Sentimental  fools !  There's  no  love  in  the 

kennel!   Desire,  seduction,  and  a  quick  satisfaction, 

and  on  to  the  next.   There's  no  love  in  some  of  us! 

Don't  you  think  I'd  have  found  it  if  there  were  ? 

INTERROGATOR  :  Heredity.   You  were  afraid 

PRISONER:  Oh,  that  cant  phrase.  Heredity.  What 
else  is  my  flesh  but  her  flesh,  where  else  did  I  get  this 
crawling  body  that  I'm  buried  in?  All  right,  en 
vironment  !  The  environment  of  a  bed  in  the  other 
room,  listening  to  new  feet  blundering  up  the  staircase, 
the  whispering  and  the  smothered  laughter,  and  the 
bedsprings  screeching  beyond  the  stupid  flowered 
paper  on  the  wall!  Remembering  the  smell  of  the 
woman  who  bent  over  you  to  try  and  kiss  you  good 
night.  Where,  before  I  was  born  or  after  it,  would  I 
find  a  heart  ? 

INTERROGATOR  :  Surely  you  proved  to  yourself 

PRISONER:  Chastity,  temperance,  fortitude — but  no 
love.  I  can  serve  men,  or  God,  or  my  country,  but 
I  can't  care.  Open  it  up,  tear  it  open,  look  for  a  heart 
— there's  nothing  there  I 

[He  collapses,  exhausted  and  fainting.  The  Interrogator 
stands  looking  down  at  himl\ 

INTERROGATOR  (standing  f or  a  moment,  steeling  himself 
for  the  final  stage — he  does  not  move  or  touch  the  'Prisoner. 
A.t  last  he  takes  the  jug  and  dashes  water  over  him} :  You 
fake,  you  empty  husk  of  a  man.  Not  so  much  alive 
in  you  as  a  maggot. 

\The  Prisoner  rises,  swaying.] 
74 


THE    PRISONER 

The  National  Monument !  The  hero  of  the  Resistance 
who  outwitted  the  Gestapo  for  his  own  vanity,  the 
martyr  for  the  Church  who  is  only  resisting  for  his 
own  pride. 
PRISONER:  Yes. 

INTERROGATOR:  His  Eminence  the  Cardinal,  the 
Papal  Chaplain,  who  flies  to  Rome  on  the  high 
international  business  of  the  Church,  the  diplomat, 
the  wit,  the  cultivated  man  of  the  world,  is  that  you, 
Eminence?  That's  what  you've  shown  the  world, 
that,  and  the  great  preacher  with  the  voice  of  £re 
and  ice,  who  could  fill  your  huge  Cathedral  to  the 
doors  with  intellectuals  and  society  women  and  the 
sweepings  of  the  slums — Yes,  you've  lived  a  good 
life,  haven't  you  ?  For  the  greater  glory  of  you,  for 
the  making  of  a  Prince  of  the  Church,  for  the  proving 
and  perfecting  of  the  miserable  little  bastard  of  a 
backstreet  drab  who  smelt  of  fish. 
PRISONER:  Forgiveness. 

INTERROGATOR:  Did  you  preach  forgiveness,  up 
there  in  your  fine  pulpit,  to  those  hungry  faces  with 
the  eyes  you  didn't  dare  look  down  into,  forgiveness 
for  those  that  stole? 

PRISONER  :  Of  course 

INTERROGATOR:  But  with  restitution.  Didn't  they 
have  to  give  back  what  they'd  stolen?  Mustn't  they 
make  amends  and  return  what  they'd  taken,  poor 
devils,  before  they  could  be  forgiven  ?  But  not  you. 
You  could  sin  and  wallow  in  the  profit  of  it,  you  could 
steal — you  could  steal  the  estimation  of  the  world, 
and  hug  it  to  yourself  to  stuff  the  empty  place  where 
your  heart  ought  to  be.  You  could  feed  your  hungry 
vanity  with  stolen  honour  and  then  confess  your 
pride  and  be  forgiven.  You  never  had  to  give  back 
what  you  stole. 
PRISONER:  Stolen  honour 

75 


ACT    TWO,    SCENE    THREE 

INTERROGATOR:  Yes,  stolen  honour!  You  know 
what  you  let  men  think  of  you  and  you  knew  the 
cold,  proud  fake  you  were,  without  the  capacity  for 
love  of  God  or  man !  What  right  had  you  to  honour  ? 
What  right? 

PRISONER:  Restitution.  How  can  you  give  back 
honour  ? 

\This  is  the  crucial  moment  for  the  Interrogator.  He  pauses 
for  a  moment^  registering  now.] 

INTERROGATOR  :  Give  it  back.  Oh — difficult.  Deface 

the  National  Monument,  pull  it  down?    No,  that'd 

be  suicide,  there'd  be  nothing  left. 

PRISONER:  Nothing?   Is  there  no  more  to  me  than 

that  facade  ? 

INTERROGATOR:  Nothing*   Pride.    A  prig  who  had 

to  be  respectable — a  small  man  who  had  to  be  great 

and  called  it  a  vocation. 

PRISONER:  Oh,  God.  What  to  do? 

INTERROGATOR    (pith    an    effort}-.  If  you    have    the 

courage,  tear  down  the  facade,  throw  them  back 

their  dream  opinion  of  you,  rid  yourself  of  it,  be 

yourself  at  last. 

PRISONER:  How? 

INTERROGATOR:  Tell  them,  as  you've  told  me.    But 

it'd  take  more  than  courage  to  do  that. 

PRISONER  :  It  would  take  humility. 

INTERROGATOR:  A  majestic  splendour  of  humility. 

PRISONER  (doubtfully) :  Splendour  ? 

INTERROGATOR    (quickly}:  To    end    the    splendour. 

Abasement. 

PRISONER:  Smash  it,  shatter  it,  grind  it  in  the  dust! 

Oh,  but  I've  loathed  it  so! 

INTERROGATOR:  You'll  do  it? 

\The  door  opens  quietly  and  the  Secretary  comes  in,  still 


THE    PRISONER 

disarrayed  from  a  hasty  call.  The  Interrogator  grips  some 
thing  to  control  his  emotion  and  signs  to  him  to  go.  The 
Secretary,  agitated  but  insistent,  gives  him  a  piece  of  paper, 
n^hich  the  Interrogator,  shaking  with  tension,  reads.  The 
Prisoner  suddenly  kneels.] 

(Whispering.}  Twenty-four  hours.  I  warned  them  to 
have  everything  laid  on. 

[The  Secretary  whispers  in  his  ear.} 

They've  got  to  be  ready  for  the  public  hearing.  Tell 
them  that.  It's  in  my  grasp,  and  I  shall  be  able  to 
hold  it  for  twenty-four  hours. 

[He  indicates  the  Prisoner,  who  kneels,  his  hands  over  his 
ears,  trying  to  concentrate  his  swimming  thoughts.  The 
Secretary  whispers  again.  The  Prisoner  notices  him  and 
rises.] 

PRISONER:  Stephen. 

[The  Interrogator  takes  the  Secretary  by  the  arm  and 
urges  him  out  of  the  room,  closing  the  door  softly.  The 
Prisoner^  trying  to  get  his  bearings^ 

That  was  Stephen.    You  have  to  be  careful  in  here 

not  to  say 

INTERROGATOR  (pitching  on  the  interrupted  note}:  But 
you  could  hardly  do  that  to  your  reputation,  could 
you — to  yourself? 

PRISONER  :  I  mustn't  sign  the  confession. 
INTERROGATOR  :  No,  not  the  confession. 

PRISONER:  Not  harm  the  Church  or  the  people 

INTERROGATOR:  We've  given  that  up,  remember? 
It's  only  you  we're  talking  about  now,  nothing  to 

77 


ACT    TWO,    SCENE    THREE 

do  with  politics,  you  and  the  honour  of  your  soul.  A 

different  confession  about  nothing  but  you. 

PRISONER:  A  true  confession? 

INTERROGATOR:    Yes,  a  true  confession,  that  you 

could  sign. 

PRISONER  :  That  I  must  sign. 

INTERROGATOR  (breathes  a  longsigh  but  still  goes  carefully) : 

What  must  you  say  ? 

PRISONER:  All  that  I've  told  you.  The  mockery  of  a 

man. 

INTERROGATOR:  Will  they  ever  believe  it? 

PRISONER  :  There's  no  restitution  if  I  can't  make  them 

believe  it. 

\The  Interrogator  signs  behind  the  Prisoner's  back  to  the 
Warder,  who  switches  on  the  recording  apparatus.} 

INTERROGATOR:  What  shall  you  say ? 
PRISONER  :  That  I  am  the  son  of  my  mother,  and  my 
whole  life  a  fantasy  to  hide  me.  Write  that  I  lied 
my  way  through  school  and  stole  my  way  to  a 
scholarship.  Write  that  I  became  a  priest  for  my  own 
glory  and  that  all  my  service  was  to  my  own  spiritual 
pride.  Write  that  I  never  had  any  love — love  of  the 
heart — for  God.  I  never  had  a  heart.  'Ehe  only 
prayer  I  ever  prayed  from — almost  from — a  heart 
was  "  Lord,  I  believe;  help  Thou  my  unbelief." 
INTERROGATOR:  And  the  people?  The  faces  below 
the  pulpit  ? 

PRISONER:  Write  that  I  posed  and  postured  for  them. 
I  ate  when  they  were  hungry.  Tell  them  that  when 
they  called  me  in  the  night  my  first  thought  was  anger. 
A  woman  dying  in  child-birth,  uselessly,  of  a  dead 
child,  a  man  on  the  railway  siding  hanging  mangled 
and  screaming  in  the  jaws  of  a  crane,  and  my  first 
thought  when  they  woke  me  to  go  to  them  was  anger, 

78 


THE    PRISONER 

hatred  of  their  stupidity  and  their  suffering.  I  prayed 
for  forgiveness,  but  I  knew  I  had  no  heart. 

INTERROGATOR:  And  in  the  war 

PRISONER:  Write  that  I  betrayed  them. 

[The  Interrogator  is  terrified  of  saying  anything^  but  he 
needs  more.  He  whispers.] 

INTERROGATOR:  That  you  betrayed  them.  How? 
PRISONER:  Write    that,    just    that.    Write    that    I 
betrayed  them,  and  finish  the  mockery  for  ever. 

\The  Interrogator  waits  to  see  if  any  more  mil  come,  and 
then  deliberately  breaks  the  atmosphere.  He  stretches  and 
yawns] 

INTERROGATOR:  Oh  well,  it's  late.    Soon  be  dawn. 

(He  laughs.}   It  won't  do,  you  know.  Put  like  that, 

they'll  never  believe  it. 

PRISONER:  Why  do  you  laugh ?  Why  do  you  say  that  ? 

INTERROGATOR:  Because  you  don't  believe  it,  not 

one  sanctimonious  word  of  it. 

PRISONER:  I  spoke  in  all  sincerity. 

INTERROGATOR:  "In  all  humility!"    I  know.    Not 

you!  You  know  if  I  wrote  that  down  it  would  read 

like  the  death-bed  of  a  saint.    Still  at  it,  my  dear 

humbug.  If  we  put  that  out,  and  shot  you  at  dawn, 

you'd  be  canonised  within  a  year;   well,  twenty-five 

years,  or  however  long  it  takes. 

PRISONER:  What  can  I  do? 

INTERROGATOR:  Use  your  wits,  man!   There's  only 

one  line  in  all   that   weak  rigmarole   that  would 

convey  the  truth. 

PRISONER:  What  was  that? 

INTERROGATOR  :  That  in  the  war  you  betrayed  them. 

PRISONER:  Not  true. 

79 


ACT    TWO,    SCENE    THREE 

INTERROGATOR:  Yes,  that's  why. 

PRISONER:  No,  no,  that's  madness! 

INTERROGATOR:  It's  a  mad  world.    Tell  them  the 

truth,  and  It  only  gleams  like  another  false  facet  of 

virtue  in  your  shining  humility.  Do  you  really  want 

to  start  again  as  low  as  the  gutter  you  came  from  ? 

Tell  them  you  betrayed  them  in  the  war.   That  they 

can  understand. 

PRISONER:  The    men    who    worked    under    me — I 

betrayed  them  to  the  Gestapo.    The  links  with  the 

Allies,  the  chain  that  led  out  of  the  country.   In  the 

end  I  answered  all  they  wanted  to  know.    (He  looks 

at  and  feels  his  bands.}   Oh,  God,  am  I  doing  right  at 

last? 

INTERROGATOR  :  Have  you  the  courage  to  go  through 

with  this  ? 

PRISONER:  To  sign  this 

INTERROGATOR  :  Sign  ?  They'll  not  believe  it. 
PRISONER:  My  signature? 
INTERROGATOR:  Faked,  they'll  say. 
PRISONER:  Recorded — — 

INTERROGATOR:  You  know  what  can  be  said  your 
self  about  recordings  ? 
PRISONER:  In  court. 

INTERROGATOR:  In  the  public  court?  Before  the 
judge  and  jury,  the  people,  and  foreign  journalists? 
PRISONER:  Yes. 

INTERROGATOR:  Could  you  do  that? 
PRISONER  :  I  must. 

INTERROGATOR:  It  couldn't  be  done. 
PRISONER:  It  must  be  done. 

INTERROGATOR  (elaborately):  The  Government  can 
hardly  be  expected  to  put  on  so  elaborate  a  show  as  a 
State  trial  just  to  restore  the  honour  of  your  immortal 
soul. 

80 


THE    PRISONER 

PRISONER:  Don't  play  with  me,  don't  mock  me.  It 
must  be  done. 

INTERROGATOR:  You  know,  there  is  one  way 

PRISONER:  What? 

INTERROGATOR  :  Throw  in  enough  politics  to  leaven 

the  loaf,  and  they'll  eat  it. 

PRISONER  :  Politics  ?  I  mustn't  confess,  sign  anything, 

I  mustn't — I  mustn't 

INTERROGATOR  :  The  last  shred  of  pride  that  spoils  it 
all!  You  mustn't  weaken,  you  mustn't  fail,  you,  so 
certain  of  yourself  when  you  arrived,  with  your  wit 
and  your  sacred  hands,  and  your  insufferable  conceit! 
PRISONER  (begins  to  laugh} :  That's  it,  isn't  it  ?  Let  them 
see  rrie  in  the  weakness  of  the  flesh  and  the  meanness 
of  the  spirit,  that  will  be  degradation,  that  will  be 
shame  enough  to  burn  the  past  and  come  through  the 
flames,  free. 

INTERROGATOR  :  That  is  hysteria. 
PRISONER:  No.  No,  calm.  Forgive  me  a  moment. 
INTERROGATOR:  No  hysteria,  and  no  hypnosis.  I 
can't  hypnotise  you  into  saying  anything  you  think 
wrong,  remember  that.  It  must  be  your  will,  not 
mine.  Do  you  believe  that  this  is  what  you  must  go 
through  with? 

PRISONER  :  Only  this  way.  Not  drugged,  nor  hypno 
tised,  nor  hysterical.  Sane  and  whole,  and  with  the 
courage — with  the  grace  of  God — to  make  restitution 
in  my  own  way.  Deface  the  monument. 

[The  Interrogator  signs  to  the  Warder >  wbo  brings  the 
carafe  and  glass.  The  Interrogator  pours  water  and  drops 
into  it  the  contents  of  a  capsule.} 

INTERROGATOR  :  You  must  rest  now.  It's  a  long  time 
since  you  slept  properly.  You'll  sleep  well,  and  when 
you  wake  you'll  walk  straight  into  the  court  and  shed 
the  burden  of  your  life. 

81 


ACT   TWO,    SCENE    THREE 

[He  gives  the  glass  to  the  Prisoner,  whose  band  goes  to  his 
head  in  the  effort  to  concentrate^ 

PRISONER:  You — you  always  taste  it  first. 

\The  Interrogator  hesitates.  The  Warder  makes  a 
movement^ 

INTERROGATOR:  Warder.  Tell  my  secretary  to  carry 
on  with  the  programme.  The  time  factor  remains  as 
I  said.  Everything  is  in  order  for  an  hour  or  two. 
PRISONER:  You  must  taste  it. 
INTERROGATOR:  Of  course.  Here's  to  you,  my  friend. 

[He  toasts  him  and  takes  a  long  sip  from  the  glass.] 

\The  Prisoner  drinks  after  him,  thirstily.  The  Warder 
takes  his  arm  and  raises  him>  and  with  a  small  formal  bow 
to  the  Interrogator  goes  out  on  the  Warder's  arm. 

The  Interrogator  covers  his  face  with  his  hands.  After  a 
moment  he  gets  to  his  desk>  lowers  himself  into  his  chair 
and  with  the  abandonment  of  exhaustion^  head  on  arms, 
falls  asleep.] 

Curtain 


ACT  THREE 

Scene  i 

Scene:  The  Cell. 
Time:  Night. 

The  shutters  have  been  removed  from  the  window,  the  over 
head  practical  tight  is  not  on,  and  moonlight  streams  in. 

The  'Prisoner,  fully  dressed,  lies  motionless  on  his  bed. 

After  a  pause,,  the  cell  Warder  appears,  opening  the  door 
quietly. 

WARDER:  You  awake?  (He  switches  the  light  on  and 
goes  over  to  the  bed,  sees  the  Prisoner's  eyes  are  open  and 
follows  their  direction?)  Yes.  .  .  .  Mm?  Nothing  up 
there  that  I  can  see.  Let  you  have  your  sleep  out, 
after  the  court.  And  you've  slept,  haven't  you? 
Five  good  meals  you've  missed. 

[Warder  goes  out,  leaving  the  door  ajar,  and  comes  back 
with  a  fray.] 

It's  eight  o'clock,  if  you're  interested.  No  reason 
why  you  shouldn't  know  the  time  o'  night  now,  is 
there  ? — what's  left  of  it,  eh  ?  (He  laughs  cheerfully?) 
Pity  to  let  it  slip  by,  eh,  and  wake  up  and  find  it  all 
gone.  (He  arranges  food  on  table?) 
PRISONER  {forcing  himself  to  it) :  What  did  the  news 
papers  say? 

WARDER:  Whool  Talk  about  headlines !  "Appalling 
Confession  ",  and  your  name  and  photograph,  and 
hardly  any  room  for  anything  else  in  the  papers. 
PRISONER  :  I  must  sec  them. 

8? 


ACT    THREE,    SCENE    ONE 

WARDER:  There  I  Day  after  the  sentence,  every 
criminal,  nearly,  I've  ever  known,  first  they  sleep  the 
round  of  the  clock,  like  you  done,  then  they  wake  up 
to  their  dinner  and  they  ask  me  one  question :  "  What 
do  they  say  about  me  in  the  papers  ?  "  Murderers, 
specially;  and  specially  the  rough  ones,  the  ones 
that  did  it  messy:  "  What  do  they  say  about  me  in 
the  papers  ?  "  Proud,  you  see,  and  wanting  everyone 
to  know. 

PRISONER:  Everyone  to  know.  .  .  . 
WARDER:  Oh?  .  .  .  Takes    all    sorts    to    make    a 
world.   Cheer  up.  You  want  to  eat  you  know.   Oh, 
now  you're  not  going  to  go  on  hunger  strike,  for 
heaven's  sake  ?  You  politicals ! 
PRISONER:  I  am  condemned  to  die,  thank  God. 
WARDER:  Yes,  but  you'll  die  the  way  it's  laid  down 
in  the  regulations;   you  just  remember  that!    None 
of  your  hunger-striking,  nor  bits   of  jagged  iron 
opening  an  artery  and  blood  all  over  your  beautiful 
cell  floor.   You  wait  for  the  proper  time  and  place, 
my  lad,  and  eat  up  now.  .  .  .  Hey!   Dinner!    Tell 
you  what,  I  can't  give  you  the  papers  to  read,  but 
there's  nothing  says  I  can't  tell  you  bits  out  of  them, 
is  there? 

PRISONER:  Tell  me 

WARDER:  Dinner  first. 
PRISONER:  I — I  can't 


WARDER:  You  eat  a  bit,  I  read  a  bit.  How's  that? 

[Tfo  Prisoner  makes  a  pretence  of  intending  to  eat.  Having 
once  brought  himself  to  the  pitch  of  facing  //,  he  is  in  an 
agony  to  know.  With  maddening  deliberation,  the  Warder 
produces  from  an  inner  pocket  of  his  uniform  a  newspaper 
folded  into  an  almost  impossibly  small  compass ^  which  he 
opens  with  great  care.] 

PRISONER  :  Please,  I  must  know  what  they've  said 


THE    PRISONER 

[With  equal  deliberation  he  produces  a  pair  of  spectacles 
from  another  pocket ,  and  a  handkerchief  to  polish  them 
with  from  a  third.} 

Now — now !  And  you  get  on  with  that  good  dinner. 

[He  begins  to  read  with  the  broken  rhythm  and  false 
emphasis  of  the  unaccustomed  reader^ 

66  Trial  Reveals  Church's  True  Role  "— "  Loathsome 
Confessions  by  Traitor  Priest" — and  then  there's 
your  picture.  .  .  .  Not  very  like,  more  proud- 
looking.  An  old  one,  I  suppose. 

PRISONER:  Please 

WARDER  :  Yes.  Well,  it  says :  "  Speaking  well  and 
clearly,  he  assured  the  court  he  had  been  subjected  to 
no  drugs  or  torture,  and  made  his  confession  of  his 
own  free  will." 

PRISONER:  Yes,  yes,  but  what  does  it  say  I  said? 
WARDER  :  "  He  admitted  to  personal  crimes  and  vices, 
in  wriich  he  had  wallowed  from  childhood — detailed 

transcription  page  four " 

PRISONER:  No,  no,  about  the  Church.  Read  on 
there. 

WARDER:  Oh,  here's  a  bit  I  wanted  to  ask  you:  "  It 
has  shocked  patriotic  Catholics  even  more  to  learn 
that  since  the  Liberation  he  has  been  receiving  for 
his  organisation  large  sums  from  abroad  to  foment 
sabotage  and  unrest;  and  he  admitted  " — here's  the 
bit — "  that  he  had  been  personally  guilty  of  esp — 

espyo » 

PRISONER:  Espionage. 

WARDER:  Yes.  Now,  what's  that,  eh? 

PRISONER:  Spying. 

WARDER  (disappointed}-.  Oh,  is  that  all,   Here,  you're 

not  playing  fair,  get  on  with  it.  ...  There's  another 

85 


ACT    THREE,    SCENE    ONE 

headline,  here — "Worst  blow  Churches  have  ever 
received."  Good  for  you! 

PRISONER:  Have  they  printed  a  denial  from  the 
Bishops  ? 

WARDER:  Well,  no  one  would  hardly  believe  them, 
would  they?  I  mean,  you  said  yourself  you  weren't 
drugged  nor  hypnotised. 

PRISONER:  Anything  from  the  Vatican — from  the 
Pope? 

WARDER:  Yes,  he  said  something  about  it  was  a  sin 
to  tamper  with  the  minds  of  men;  and  the  paper  says 
he's  a  fine  one  to  talk  about  that!  .  .  .  Morning 
papers,  evening  papers — never  seen  anything  like  it. 
Foreign  papers,  too — it  has  bits  out  of  them,  trans 
lated,  tonight.  The  things  you  told  'em!  You're  a 
proper  priest,  all  right,  eh  ? 

[The  Warder  sees  the  untasted  food.~\ 

Hey!   Now  that's  too  bad — I  trusted  you. 
PRISONER:  You!    (He  gives  a  sobbing  laugh.}  Yes,  you 
did,  too.  I'm  sorry.  Yes,  I  must  live  till  the  judgment 
is  executed.   (He  tries  to  eat.) 
WARDER:  Swallow  all  right ? 
PRISONER  :  I  could  drink,  I  think.    (He  drinks.) 
WARDER:  That's  right.    Had  a  boy  in  here  once, 
couldn't  swallow  a  thing.   Killed  three  sailors  with  a 
hand-spike  in  a  fight  in  the  docks,  but  a  nice  quiet 
kid,  not  spiteful  or  out  to  make  trouble  for  you. 
Just  couldn't  seem  to  swallow.  Nervous  stricture,  the 
doctor  said.  Hanging,  see  ?  But  I  soon  settled  him. 
"  They've   changed   your    sentence,    lad,"    I    said, 
"  they're    bringing    in    an    electric    chair,    like    in 
America."    Ate  like  a  wolf  after  that:    (He  moves 
downstage  of  pillar?)    only  standing  up,  see?    (He  sits 
on  pillar  seat.)  That's  right,  take  your  time. 

86 


THE    PRISONER 

[From  of  stage,  the  sound  of  the  Prisoner's  own  voice  is 
heard  approaching.} 

PRISONER'S  VOICE  (recorded):  Yes,  it's  a  free  and 
spontaneous  confession.  I  believe  it's  the  only  way, 
I  have  got  to  make  the  world  believe  I  did  these 
things. 

[The  Warder  looks  round  at  the  Prisoner  who  thinks  that 
he  alone  hears  the  voice} 

PRISONER  (whispering):  Madness.  .  .  . 

PRISONER'S  VOICE  :  You  must  believe  the  worst  that  I 

can  find  to  say. 

PRISONER:  No — no! 

[The  door  is  opened  and  the  Interrogation  ILoom  Warder 
enters  carrying  a  portable  radio  set.  He  comes  down  the 
stairs  leaving  the  door  open} 

ANNOUNCER'S  VOICE:  The  Prisoner's  voice,  as  you 
can  hear  from  that  recording,  was  clear  and  normal. 
WARDER  (rising) :  Thought  I  heard  something  funny. 

[The  Interrogation  Room  Warder  goes  to  bed,  puts  radio 
down  and  sits  to  opposite  prompt  of  it} 

ANNOUNCER'S  VOICE:  We  will  now  play  back  some 
other  passages  from  the  official  recordings  of  this 
trial,  which  has  shaken  the  misplaced  faith  of 
millions  in  this  country  and  abroad. 
INTERROGATOR'S  VOICE:  You  have  not  been  a  good 
priest,  you  say? 

WARDER:  Here,  shut  the  door.  (The  Interrogation  Room 
Warder  goes  up  and  shuts  the  door.,  then  sits  on  the  third 
step  down.  The  cell  Warder  crosses  to  bed  and  sits  beside 
the  radio.} 

87 


ACT    THREE,    SCENE    ONE 

There's  nothing  about  this  in  the  regulations — it's 

never  happened  before.  Listen! 

PRISONER'S  VOICE:  No.  A  bad  priest. 

INTERROGATOR'S  VOICE  :  Will  you  tell  the  court  what 

you  mean  by  that  ? 

PRISONER'S  VOICE:  My  whole  life  was  a  He,  a  show. 

I  was  a  fake  from  beginning  to  end.  A  fraud  on  the 

people. 

WARDER:  You.   Like  it? 

INTERROGATOR'S  VOICE:  Are  you  just  saying  that  out 

of  saintly  humility  ? 

WARDER:  Him. 

PRISONER'S  VOICE:  No  I   No!   I  stole — I  stole  money 

they  gave  the  Church  for  the  poor 

INTERROGATOR'S  VOICE  :  Did  you  use  the  information 

you  learned  in  the  confessional  for  blackmail  ? 

PRISONER'S  VOICE:  Yes.  Yes. 

PRISONER:  Oh,    my    people.  .  .  .  (He    rises,    leans 

against  wall  down  left,  and  then  crosses  below  table  to 

down  right.) 

WARDER:  That'll  teach  them  to  trust  the  priests,  eh? 

ANNOUNCER'S  VOICE:  There  was  an  outcry  in  the 

public  gallery  at  this  point 

[As  the  Prisoner  crosses  to  right,  he  reaches  as  if  about  to 
be  sick.  The  Interrogation  Room  Warder,  seeing  the  obvious 
emotion  of  the  Prisoner,  indicates  it  to  the  Warder '.] 

WARDER:  Eh?  ...  Oh.  Get  the  doctor.  He's  in 
Number  Four. 

\The  ^Loom  Warder  hurries  out,  having  door  open.  In 
watching  the  Prisoner  the  Warder  forgets  about  the  radio.} 

INTERROGATOR'S  VOICE:  Do  you  confess  that  under 
the  Occupation  you  betrayed  the  names  of  Resistance 
workers  ? 


THE    PRISONER 

PRISONER'S  VOICE:  I  confess  that. 

INTERROGATOR'S  VOICE:  Do  you  confess  that  you 

gave  the  Gestapo  everything  they  wanted 

PRISONER'S  VOICE:  I  confess  that. 

[T&e  Prisoner  begins  to  chant  during  these  lines,  and  con 
tinues  while  the  voices  on  the  radio  go  on,  as  emotionlessly  as  a 
priest  in  church.] 

PRISONER:  Confiteor  Deo  Omnipotent} \  beatae  Mariae 
semper  vigini,  beato  Michaeli  Archangelo,  beafo  Joanni 
Eaptistae,  sanctis  A.postohs  Petro  et  Paulo,  omnibus 
sanctis,  et  vobis  fratres  quia  peccavi  nimis  cogitations, 

verbo,  et  opero 

INTERROGATOR'S  VOICE:  Did  you  betray  the  under 
ground  links  with  the  Allies  in  return  for  immunity 
for  Church  rights  and  property  ? 
PRISONER'S  VOICE:  I  did. 

INTERROGATOR'S  VOICE  :  Did  you  assist  the  enemy  in 
laying  traps  for  Allied  parachutists  bringing  arms  and 
equipment  for  the  Resistance  ? 
PRISONER'S  VOICE:  I  did. 

INTERROGATOR'S  VOICE:  Why  do  you  confess  this 
now? 

PRISONER:  Mea  culpa,  mea  culpa,  mea  maxima  culpa 

PRISONER'S  VOICE:  To  make  amends. 

]The  Prisoner  faints  clean  away.] 
WARDER:  Hell! 

[He  pulls  the  Prisoner  on  the  floor  to  a  half-sitting  position 
against  the  column,  so  as  to  press  his  head  down  towards 
his  knees.  The  voices  on  the  radio  continue] 

INTERROGATOR'S  VOICE:  And  since  the  end  of  the 
war,  have  you  received  funds  from  abroad  ? 


ACT    THREE,    SCENE    ONE 

PRISONER'S    VOICE:  Yes.      To    pay    for.  .  .  .  (He 

hesitates?) 

INTERROGATOR'S  VOICE:  Sabotage?  Bribery? 

PRISONER'S  VOICE:  Yes. 

INTERROGATOR'S  VOICE:  Rigging  the  stock  markets? 

PRISONER'S  VOICE:  Yes. 

INTERROGATOR'S  VOICE:  Do  you  confess  that  you 

have  attempted  the  corruption  of  the  National  Army  ? 

PRISONER'S  VOICE:  Yes.  I  confess  that. 

\The  Prisoner  is  beginning  to  come  round.] 

WARDER:  That's  right.  Come  on,  now — (He  moves 
downstage  around  the  prisoner  and  collects  the  blanket  which 
he  threw  down  at  the  foot  of  the  stairs  as  he  got  uf)+ 
INTERROGATOR'S  VOICE:  Do  you  confess  that  you 
have  paid  Catholic  officers  and  men  in  responsible 
positions  to  convey  secret  information  to  you  for 
transmission  abroad  ? 
PRISONER'S  VOICE:  Yes  I  have  done  that, 

\The  Prisoner  is  moaning  and  muttering  incoherently.  The 
Warder  holds  the  two  ends  of  the  blanket  firmly  round  the 
Prisoner 'y  so  that  his  arms  are  pinioned I\ 

WARDER:  Where's  that  bloody  doctor 

INTERROGATOR'S   VOICE:  Do   you   admit   that   you 
have  made  such  men  impossible  to  trust?  All  men 
of  your  way  of  thought  impossible  to  trust? 
PRISONER'S  VOICE  f  All  men  like  me  are  impossible 
PRISONER  j^to  trust. 

[As  soon  as  the  Prisoner  has  the  blanket  wrapped  round 
him^  the  Doctor  enters^  followed  by  the  ^.oom  Warder,,  who 
haves  the  door  open  and  then  stands  between  the  stairs  and 
the  bed.  The  Doctor  goes  to  the  table  ^  puts  his  bag  down> 
places  the  tray  on  the  chair  and  then  prepares  an  injection^ 

90 


THE    PRISONER 

INTERROGATOR'S  VOICE:  Do  you  tell  the  Court  that 

with  absolute  conviction  and  of  your  own  free  will 

unconstrained  ? 

PRISONER'S  VOICE:  Yes.  I  do. 

WARDER:  Crazy.    Give  him  a  shot,  or  something. 

[The  Doctor.,  having  filled  his  syringe^  crosses  to  the 
'Prisoner \  pulls  his  left  trouser  leg  up  to  expose  the  calf,  and 
then  gives  him  a  hypodermic  injection^ 

INTERROGATOR'S    VOICE:  Look    round    this    court. 
Look  at  the  judge  who  represents  your  country. 
Look  at  the  jury  who  are  here  to  see  justice  done. 
Look  out  there  at  the  sea  of  faces  in  this  great  hall — 
look  in  those  faces — tell  them  at  last  the  truth  about 
yourself:   have  you  betrayed  your  people  ? 
PRISONER'S  VOICE:  I  have  betrayed  them. 
INTERROGATOR'S    VOICE:  The    world    is    listening, 
outside.  Tell  the  world.   Treachery  ? 
PRISONER'S  VOICE:  Treachery. 
INTERROGATOR'S  VOICE:  Corruption? 
PRISONER'S  VOICE:  Corruption. 
INTERROGATOR'S  VOICE:  A  whole  life  of  lies? 
PRISONER'S  VOICE:  Yes,  yes,  yes! 

\The  Doctor  returns  to  the  table  and  as  he  puts  away 
his  hypodermic  syringe  he  notices  the  radio  as  if  conscious 
of  if  for  the  first  time.  He  goes  to  switch  it  off,  but  turns 
the  wrong  knob  which  only  increases  the  volume.  A.S  he  is 
looking  for  the  correct  knob>  the  Interrogator  enters.  The 
Doctor  switches  off  the  radio.  The  Interrogator  moves  to 
left  of  the  Prisoner  who  is  quite  motionless.  When  he 
speaks.,  his  voice  is  toneless^ 

PRISONER  :  Now  that  I'm  mad  I  can  kill  you.  There's 
no  sin,  because  I'm  not  responsible,  and  I  can  kill  you 

91 


ACT    THREE,    SCENE    ONE 

because  I  know  where  the  chink  in  your  armour  is. 
It's  near  your  heart. 

\The  lethargy  of  the  drug  holds  his  limbs  immobile^  but  in 
his  imagination  he  is  untrammelled,  and  thinks  that  what 
he  is  doing)  passionless ly,  is  what  must  be  done.] 

It  must  be  stamped  out,  that  face,  that  voice,  evil — it 
must  be  stifled,  with  my  hands  round  your  throat, 
pressing  the  bubbling  pulse  under  my  thumb.  (He 
struggles  uselessly?)  You  see  ?  You  can't  even  struggle. 
The  voice  of  life  goes  out  of  you. 

]The  Interrogator  takes  two  steps  downstage^ 

(Gently?)  Ego  absolvo  te  de  pecatis  tuis,  in  nomine  Patris, 
et  Filii,  et  Spiritus  Sancti — Amen. 

[The  Prisoner  falls  over  in  sleep  with  his  head  to  centre^ 

INTERROGATOR:  Get  him  up  on  the  bed.  (He  moves 
downstage  of  the  table.  To  Doctor?)  Thanks.  I'll  have  a 
word  with  you  about  the  case  later,  before  he  comes 
round. 

]The  Doctor  exits  up  the  stairs,  and  the  ILoom  Warder 
moves  the  radio  on  to  table.  With  the  R.oom  Warder  at  his 
head,  and  the  cell  Warder  at  his  feet,  the  Prisoner  is  placed 
on  the  bed,  his  head  on  the  pillow.  The  Room  Warder  collects 
the  blanket  which  he  gives  to  the  cell  Warder,  and  is  about 
to  go  up  the  stairs  when  the  Interrogator  stops  him.] 

(Indicating  the  radio.]   Get  that  out  of  here. 

[The  TLoom  Warder  takes  up  the  radio  and  exits.,  leaving 
the  door  open.  The  cell  Warder  covers  the  Prisoner  with 
the  blanket^ 

92 


THE    PRISONER 

WARDER:  Funny  thing.  It's  always  the  quiet  ones 
and  you  never  learn.  (Starts  to  clear  up  the  overturned 
furniture  and  food.) 

\The  Interrogator  sits  on  the  edge  of  the  bed  and  looks  into 
the  unconscious  face  of  the  Prisoner.} 

INTERROGATOR:  He  was  broken  by  a  half  truth — a 

distorted  truth.  You  poor  fool,  you  were  too  humble. 

You  believed  me  when  I  told  you  your  whole  life  was 

built  on  pride.  A  proud  man  would  have  been  more 

sceptical.  (Turning  to  Warder.)  What  did  you  make  of 

him? 

WARDER:  Me?  Guilty. 

INTERROGATOR:  You'd  believe  all  that  confession  of 

his? 

WARDER  :  Guilty.  I  knew  it.  You  could  see  he  knew 

it.    He  won't  be  stuck  crazy,  will  he,  sir?   I  don't 

want  this,   on  and  off — they'll  have  to  keep  him 

padded  up,  I  don't  want  the  responsibility. 

INTERROGATOR:  No,  he  won't  stay  mad,  poor  devil. 

Have  you  ever  driven  a  brilliant  mind  to  pray  for 

madness  ? 

WARDER:  Me?    No.    That's  psychology,  I  expect. 

Progress  ? 

INTERROGATOR:  Warder — I'm  going  to  have  a  word 

with  the  doctor,  in  a  minute — will  you  let  him  know 

if  he  seems  to  be  in  too  much  pain  again  ? 

WARDER:  Pain?   There's  nothing  wrong  with  him. 

INTERROGATOR  (giving  it  up):  No.  .  .  .  (To  himself.) 

Nothing  that  death  won't  cure. 

WARDER  :  It  was  seeing  you  sent  him  round  the  bend. 

What  did  you  want  to  come  upsetting  him  for  ? 

INTERROGATOR:  Clinical     interest — I     thought.      I 

wanted  to  see  what  I'd  left  of  him. 

WARDER  :  Morbid,  if  you  ask  me.    Like  a  murderer 

93 


ACT    THREE,    SCENE    ONE 

digging  up  his  favourite  corpse  to  see  what  it  looks 
like  dead  and  buried.  Well? 

INTERROGATOR  (revolted} :  Well.  It's  still  alive.  When 
it  comes  to,  it  may  be  able  to  crawl  away  into  the 
relief  of  drooling  idiocy,  but  I  doubt  it.  Well,  it 
had  to  be  done.  The  effect  has  already  been  over 
whelming. 

WARDER:  Looks  like  it.  Do  you  a  bit  of  good,  I 
suppose,  sir. 

INTERROGATOR  (fiercely):  Never  mind  that!  It  had 
to  be  done. 

WARDER:  Yes.  .  .  .  Oh,  yes. 

INTERROGATOR:  The  mind  of  man.    Reasoning  and 
creating,  and  beautiful.    Do  you  know  that  that's 
what  you  mean  by  <c  God  "  ? 
WARDER  :  I  shouldn't  be  surprised. 
INTERROGATOR  (shouting) :  Then  if  you  smash  it  you 
must  expect  to  feel  guilty  of  blasphemy ! 
WARDER:  Why  not  get  the  doc  to  give  you  a  shot 
of  that,  sir  ?   (Indicating  the  Prisoner.}   Do  you  good. 
You  want  a  nice  long  sleep. 
INTERROGATOR:  I've  slept. 
WARDER:  So  had  he. 

INTERROGATOR:  Did  you  notice  what  he  said?  He 
was  the  only  person  who  could  kill  me,  because  he 
knew  the  chink  in  my  armour. 
WARDER  :  Don't  worry,  we'll  keep  him  locked  up. 
INTERROGATOR:  You're    too    late.     He's    got    out 
already. 


Curtain 


94 


THE    PRISONER 

Scene  2 

Scene:  The  Cell 
Time:  Day. 

The  Prisoner,  carefully  dressed  as  in  first  Act,  is  kneeling 
in  prayer,  very  still.  The  cell  Warder  comes  in  n>itb  a  tray 
piled  high  with  crockery  and  food.  He  looks  about  and 
dumps  it  on  the  floor  and  goes  out  again,  leaving  the  door 
ajar.  The  Prisoner  pays  no  attention.  The  Warder  comes 
back  with  a  white  tablecloth,  which,  with  an  air  of  enormous 
importance,  he  spreads  on  the  table.  The  "Prisoner  still  pays 
no  attention  and  the  Warder  whistles  on  his  fingers.  The 
"Prisoner  looks  up,  and  the  Warder  displays  his  cloth. 

WARDER  :  What  do  you  think  of  that  ? 

[The  Prisoner  rises  and  stands  watching  the  Warder 
thoughtfully.} 

Double  damask.   Pattern  both  sides — see?   Clean  as 
a  marriage  bed.   Never  been  used.   Well,  used,  but 
washed  since  last  time,  that's  the  point.    Last  time. 
.  .  .  Well,  you  don't  want  to  think  o'  that,  no  more 
than  the  bridegroom,  do  you?   Meals  and  women, 
take  'em  as  they  come,  one  after  the  other,  enough 
and  not  too  often,  and  you  won't  get  indigestion — 
or  anything  else,  you  hope.  Nice,  isn't  it  ? 
PRISONER:  Beautifully  laundered. 
WARDER:  There  now!    And  that's  an  expert,  mark 
you;   altar  linen,  eh  ?   God,  when  I  was  a  choirboy, 
use  the  corner  of  the  hem  to  so  much  as  wipe  your 
nose  and  they'd  murder  you.   (He  is  laying  the  break- 
fast.) 
PRISONER;  A  very — elaborate  breakfast. 

95 


ACT    THREE,    SCENE    TWO 

WARDER:  'S  right.  Appetite? 
\Tbe  Prisoner  turns  away.} 

PRISONER:  I'll  try  and  do  it  justice. 

WARDER:  That's  the  spirit.   You'd  be  surprised,  the 

amount  of  waste  at  these  breakfasts.    Course,  we 

finish  it  up,  you  know.   "  Make  it  kippers,"  my  mate 

said.  "We're  going  to  eat  it — might  as  well  get  what 

we  fancy."  "  Kidneys,"  I  said.  "  That'll  be  his  taste." 

PRISONER:  I  like  them  very  much. 

WARDER:  What  did  I  say!    "  He'll  have  what  he 

fancies,"  I  said,  "  poor  devil.   His  last  taste  of  life." 

(He  whips  a  cover  off  a  dish,  and  stands  by  expectantly.) 

PRISONER:  Kidneys. 

WARDER:  Can't  abide  'em,  so  don't  you  bother  about 

the  left-overs.   (H*  continues  to  prepare  the  table.) 

PRISONER  :  You're  a  good  soul. 

WARDER:  Ho!  No,  but  a  job's  a  job,  you  got  to  do  it 

right.    And  you've  got  to  go  to  bed  with  yourself, 

nights,  with  your  mind  easy. 

PRISONER:  What  time  is  the  execution? 

WARDER:  No  orders. 

PRISONER:-  How  long,  as  a  rule,  after  breakfast? 

WARDER:  Half  an  hour,  maybe.    Course,  since  the 

war,  with  there  being  so  many  and  nothing  done 

properly,  you  can't  tell.   Go  on,  sit  down,  get  your 

belly  full.  I  don't  have  nothing  to  do  with  executions. 

I  did  the  training  course,  and  passed  out  well,  but — 

promotion  doesn't  go  by  rights,  these  days.    Don't 

let  your  kidneys  get  cold. 

PRISONER:  Shall  I  be  allowed  a  priest? 

WARDER:  That's  a  good  one!    "  Shall  I  be  allowed 

a  priest!  "  Wait  till  I  tell  them  that  one!   Good  lad. 

You're  a  good  lad,  I  always  said  so  ...  I  hate  a 

man  that  can't  take  it  with  a  grin.  "  Shall  I  be  allowed 


THE    PRISONER 

a  priest?"  Hocus  pokus  porcus  pie,  eh  ?  We  know, 
eh?  You're  a  good  sort,  and  I'll  miss  you — no 
trouble, 'you've  been — well,  hardly.  Lord  knows 
what  I'll  get  in  here  next  time.  Eat  up. 
PRISONER:  Would  you  be  allowed  to  leave  me  for  a 
little  ?  There's  no  knife,  with  the  food  all  cut  up,  and 
the  crockery's  too  thick  to  give  a  cutting  edge  if  one 
broke  it.  ... 

WARDER:  Lord,  yes,  if  you  like.  Squeamish,  are  you  ? 
Takes  everyone  different,  but  you  don't  want  to 
waste  those  kidneys.  Take  your  time. 

[He  is  going  to  the  door  when  it  opens  and  the  Interrogation 
ILoom  Warder  appears  with  a  note — a  pass — which  the 
cell  Warder  reads.} 

No,  he  can't!  (He  reads  again.}  Oh,  well.  (To  the 
Prisoner.) 

\The  second  Warder  stands  hack  with  a  penetrating  sniff. 
The  Prisoner  reacts  to  the  sound.  The  Interrogator  appears 
in  the  doorway.  The  other  Warder  goes.  The  Interrogator 
gives  the  cell  Warder  an  envelope} 

INTERROGATOR:  Your  instructions.  Read  them  out 
side. 

WARDER:  He's  having  his  breakfast,  sir.  He's  got  to 
have  time  for  a  good  breakfast.   That's  civilisation, 
and  always  has  been. 
INTERROGATOR:  Yes,  yes  .  .  .  outside. 

\The  Warder  shrugs  and  goes} 

Well.   (There  is  no  reaction.) 

PRISONER  :  What  more  can  you  want  of  me,  now  ? 

INTERROGATOR:  Nothing  more. 

4  97 


ACT    THREE,    SCENE    TWO 

PRISONER:  No.    There  would  hardly   be  anything 
else.   Must  we  talk.   I  haven't  seen  you  in  the  week 
since  the  trial,  and  now  that  I  hear  your  voice  I  find 
it  hard  to  forgive  my  enemies,  and  I  haven't  long. 
INTERROGATOR:  Well.  I've  got  to  know  this.  Have 
you  made  peace  with  your  conscience  ? 
PRISONER:  Does  it  concern  the  Government? 
INTERROGATOR:  No. 

PRISONER:  To  complete  the  record,  scientifically,  for 
the  casebook? 

INTERROGATOR:  For  my  own  personal  satisfaction. 
It  wouldn't  interest  you,  but  some — principles  of 
mine  are  involved. 
PRISONER:  Well,  then:   yes. 
INTERROGATOR:  You've  forgiven  yourself. 
PRISONER:  Oh,  no.  But  I  believe  I  shall  be  forgiven. 
ee  He  who  will  judge  us  is  He  who  made  us." 
INTERROGATOR:  So  you've  found  here  a  peace  you 
never  really  knew  outside.   Perhaps  you  should  find 
it  in  your  heart  to  thank  me. 

PRISONER:  The  doctor  who  diagnosed  the  weakness  ? 
Perhaps  I  should. 

[He  speaks  absolutely  without  interest \  but  the  Interrogator 
misinterprets  him.] 

Shall  I  be  allowed  to  see  a  priest  before  I  die  ? 

INTERROGATOR  :  You  won't  need  one. 

PRISONER:  I  beg  of  you,  let  me  see  a  priest. 

INTERROGATOR:  Still  so  much  dignity. 

PRISONER:  I — had  the  habit  of  it.  As  humbly  as  you 

like;  a  priest,  before  I  die. 

INTERROGATOR:  You're  not  to  die. 

[Tfo  Prisoner  is  unable  to  believe  he  has  heard  aright.} 

No. 

PRISONER:  I  was  condemned.    I  am  to  be  hanged. 

98 


THE    PRISONER 

You  were  in  court,  you  heard  the  sentence. 
INTERROGATOR:  It's  been  commuted. 
PRISONER:  They  couldn't  commute  it,  after  what  I 
said. 

INTERROGATOR:  They  have. 

PRISONER:  I  said  Fd  plotted  madness — to  set  up  a 
Council  of  State  with  myself  at  the  head,  I  said — how 
could  they  let  me  live  ? 
INTERROGATOR:  It's  policy. 
PRISONER  (frightened}:  To  let  me  live?  No! 
INTERROGATOR:  Listen.    I  asked  to  take  over  the 
business  of  telling  you  from  the  Prison  Governor, 
I  said  it  was  my  work  to  observe  rare  phenomena,  like 
the  sight  of  a  man  being  reprieved  from  a  revolting 
death. 

PRISONER:  Oh!  (Relaxing  with  infinite  relief.  Almost 
laughing^l  I  should  have  known  by  now.  One  last 
experiment,  give  the  specimen  a  whiff  of  oxygen,  and 
watch  it  wriggle  on  the  slide  under  the  microscope. 
INTERROGATOR:  I  was  playing  at  no  clinical  experi 
ments.  I  thought  I  could  help  you  to  the  idea.  You 
are  not  to  die. 

\Tbe  Prisoner  studies  bim  and  is  convinced^ 

PRISONER:  I  must.   The  poor,  muddled,  fools  whose 

beliefs  I've  shattered — they  must  at  least  see  that  I 

can  die. 

INTERROGATOR:  The  sentence  has  been  commuted. 

PRISONER:  "  Martyrdom."  That's  what  you're  afraid 

of.  You  needn't  be.   No  one  could  make  the  world 

see  me  as  a  martyr  now.  Suicide.  That's  it,  they  think 

I'll  take  my  own  life,  so  that  they  can  say  that  I 

committed  the   kst  cowardice   of  all.    No  ...  I 

shan't  do  that,  you  know. 

INTERROGATOR:  No.  I  didn't  think  you  would. 

99 


ACT    THREE,    SCENE    TWO 

PRISONER:  No.    (He  turns  away  and  there  is  a  short 
pause  while  he  faces  the  realisation^)  I — had  counted  on 
execution.  For  me,  this  is  the  heavier  sentence. 
INTERROGATOR  :  There's  more  to  come. 
PRISONER  :  What  is  it  ?   Oh,  man,  you  know  me  well 
enough  by  now  to  realize  you've  told  me  the  worst 
of  it.   Well,  what  is  it  to  be  ?   Come  on.   What  is  it 
to  be?   Road  gangs,  oakum,  or  shall  I  drain  you  a 
foetid  swamp  ?  What'll  you  have  ? 
INTERROGATOR:  You're  free  to  go.  (Pause)  The  gates 
will  be  opened.    You've  only  to  walk  through. 
PRISONER  :  I  was  mad,  at  the  trial,  in  a  way.  And  then 
that  insane  fit  of  hysteria  afterwards.    Am  I  mad 
after  all  ?  Or  asleep.  .  .   ?  They  say  you  can't  dream 
a  taste.    (He  takes  something  from  the  table  and  tries  to 
eat  /*/.)   Too  dry,  my  mouth.   They  couldn't  set  me 
free. 

INTERROGATOR:  Can't  you  see?  The  harm's  done, 
the  object's  achieved,  but  the  effect  mustn't  be 
spoiled.  Dead,  you  might  be  a  martyr;  imprisoned, 
you'd  be  an  enigma;  free,  sane,  whole,  walking  the 
world  in  the  broad  light  of  day,  what  harm  can  you 
do  the  Government? 
PRISONER:  They'd  be  mad  to  risk  it — what  I  might 

say 

INTERROGATOR  :  That  you  were  talked  into  it  ? 

PRISONER:  It's  another  of  your  tricks.    It  can't  be 

true. 

INTERROGATOR:  Warder!   (The  Interrogator  goes  to  the 

door  and  raps  on  it,  the  Warder  comes  in.    He  grins 

cheerfully  at  the  Prisoner.) 

WARDER:  Think  of  that,  eh? 

INTERROGATOR  :  Give  me  the  instructions. 

WARDER:  That's  addressed  to  me — "  Cell  Warder 

number  six  ". 

INTERROGATOR:  Idiot,  the  Governor  and  the  gate 

100 


THE    PRISONER 

warder  and  half  a  dozen  other  people  have  copies. 
Well,  give  it  to  the  prisoner. 

[The  Warder  gives  the  paper  to  the  Prisoner  who  reads  it 
while  the  Warder  talks.} 

WARDER:  Oh,  want  to  see  it  in  bkck  and  white,  eh? 
Shook  me,  I  don't  mind  telling  you. 

[The  lack  of  reaction  from  the  Prisoner  penetrates} 

(To  Interrogator^)  Takes  'em  different,  you  know,  sir. 
Knew  one  once  went  out  of  his  mind  when  the 
reprieve  came.    Straight  jacket.    You  couldn't  help 
laughing.    "  Fd  sooner  be  hanged  any  day  of  the 
week,"  I  said  to  my  mate,  "  than  look  such  a  bloody 
damn  fool  as  that,  floundering  about  and  squeaking 
like   a  bat,   in  a   straight  jacket.'*     Couldn't   help 
laughing.   Sooner  be  hanged. 
INTERROGATOR:  Get  out.   Go  on — outside. 
WARDER:  This  here  is  my  cell,  sir.  Number  six. 
INTERROGATOR:  Get  out. 
WARDER:  Amachers !   (He  goes,  closing  the  door.} 
PRISONER:  How  can  they  risk  it?    They  won't  for 
long. 

INTERROGATOR:  Don't  fool  yourself,  there's  no  hope 
there.  You're  no  danger  to  them.  What  could  you 
say? 

PRISONER:  My   mother !     That  you   used    my 

mother. 

INTERROGATOR:  Her  own  doctor  sent  her  to  the 

Cancer  Hospital  some  time  before  you  were  arrested. 

You — hadn't  kept  in  very  close  touch,  had  you? 

PRISONER:  Is  that  true? 

INTERROGATOR:  Yes. 

PRISONER:  Has  she  the  disease? 

101 


ACT    THREE,    SCENE    TWO 

INTERROGATOR:  They  think  not. 
PRISONER:  Thank  God. 
INTERROGATOR:  For  her  sake,  or  yours. 
PRISONER:  Always  the  expert.  For  hers.  I  have  more 
sympathy  than  I  had  with  human  weakness. 
INTERROGATOR:  But — you  see?    Nothing  you  say 
can  harm  the  Government,  it's  even  to  their  ad 
vantage  to  have  you  set  free. 
PRISONER  :  On  what  grounds  ? 
INTERROGATOR:  In  recognition  of  your  organising 
the  resistance  in  the  early  years  of  the  war.  They  will 
say  that  they  believe  you  were  only  acting  under  your 
Church's  orders,  afterwards.    They've  drawn  your 
sting.   You  can  go. 
PRISONER:  It's  true,  then. 

INTERROGATOR  :  It's  policy.  There's  nothing  you  can 
do. 

PRISONER  :  You  devils.  Out  there,  like  Cain,  branded ; 
to  live,  to  crawl  on  through  life  dragging  out  the 
scandal,  trailing  the  offence.  No ! 

INTERROGATOR:  Listen 

PRISONER:  Death's  easily  come  by,  you  mean,  out 
side.  It'll  hang  on  every  bush,  it  could  fall  out  of  any 
window,  it'll  be  laid  for  me  on  every  table,  with  the 
knife  beside  the  plate.  Death — death — just  for  the 
taking  up.  Always  there,  and  not  for  me.  I  had  so 
eased  my  mind  with  the  certainty  of  it,  I — can't  see 
beyond  it! 

INTERROGATOR:  You'll  not  take  your  life. 
PRISONER:  My  mother's  an  old  woman.  I  could  live 
twenty,  thirty  years.    Yes,  it's  one  thing  I  never 
thought  of,  it's  more  terrible  than  I  could  have 
thought  of.  Yes,  I  see. 

[The  Interrogator  -produces  a  revolver  from  an  inner 
pocket^ 

102 


THE    PRISONER 

INTERROGATOR:  You  flew  at  me  once  before.  I  can 
pretend  to  call  to  the  warder  for  help  as  I  fire.  Do 
you  want  to  pray  ? 

\The  'Prisoner  looks  at  him  with  eager  gratitude.} 

PRISONER:  You'd  do  it?    (After  a  moment's  struggle 

with  himself ^  with  a  cry  of  pain.}   Oh,  to  tempt  me  to 

cheat  with  death! 

INTERROGATOR  :  Do  you  want  to  pray  ? 

PRISONER:  I — must   not — ask   you   to    do   murder. 

You're  not  offering  me  martyrdom.   You're  offering 

me  escape.   I've  accepted  the  heavier  sentence. 

\The  Interrogator  slowly  lowers  the  gun.\ 

INTERROGATOR:  I'd  shoot  a  dog  to  put  it  out  of 
such  misery;  and  I  couldn't  kill  you.  You're  entitled 
to  your  hell.  What  is  it?  Have  I  found  a  soul  in 
you?  What  is  it?  When  I  saw  you  after  the  trial, 
trying  to  scream  yourself  mad,  I  was  sick  with 
loathing  of  what  I'd  done  to  you;  I  told  myself  it  was 
reaction  from  the  strain.  But  I  was  right;  it  shouldn't 
have  been  done.  Not  the  lie  itself— we  needed  the 
lie,  it's  done  good — but  the  twisting  and  breaking  of 
your  spirit.  We  had  no  right — no  cause  however  just 
can  have  the  right  to  tamper  with  the  mind  of  a 
man.  Are  you  listening  to  me? 
PRISONER:  Yes.  Yes,  talk.  I  need  the  time. 
INTERROGATOR:  I  should  console  you,  surely? 
You've  shown  me  I've  a  power  I  daren't  use  again. 
What  is  it — your  courage  now,  or  your  weakness 
then?  Perhaps  it's  both,  perhaps  it's  man — that 
anything  so  frail  can  be  so  brave.  .  .  .  You  did  find 
out  my  weakness,  didn't  you  ? 
PRISONER  (wearily):  Humanity? 

103 


ACT    THREE,    SCENE    TWO 

INTERROGATOR:  Is  that  all? 
PRISONER:  It's  enough. 

\Tbe  door  opens  and  the  cell  Warder  appears,  the  Secretary 
with  a  sheaf  of  papers,  and  the  Doctor  are  at  his  elbow.] 

WARDER:  Sorry,  sir;  medical  discharge  certificate. 

INTERROGATOR  :  Give  it  to  me. 

WARDER:  It's  the   official   one,   sir.    Copy   to  the 

Governor.   The  doctor,  here 

INTERROGATOR:  Give  it  to  me. 

]The  Secretary  gives  him  the  papers.} 

(To  Doctor.)  It's  all  right.  I'll  sign  them. 

\The  Doctor  nods  and  goes,  leaving  his  stethoscope  behind. 
The  Interrogator  jerks  his  head  to  the  Secretary ',  to  indicate 
to  him  to  wait  outside,  and  he  and  the  Warder  go  out.] 

There's  something  I  can  do,  to  lighten  it  for  you. 

\He  clears  a  corner  of  the  table,  and  begins  to  fill  in  the 

forms.) 

PRISONER:  How   odd   that   he   should   think   there 

could  be  anything  about  me  you'd  need  to  find  out 

with  a  stethoscope. 

INTERROGATOR:  I  hid  that  revolver.    I  hid  what  I 

was  doing  from  my  own  secretary  and  the  prison 

staff!  Indulging  in  secret  treachery. 

PRISONER  :  It  seemed  like  humanity  at  the  time. 

INTERROGATOR:  It  was  treason.  What  have  you  done 

to  me? 

PRISONER:  That,  from  you? 

INTERROGATOR:  I  was  out  of  my  mind,  How  could  I 

let  myself  be  so  shaken  by  pity — by  sheer  sentiment — 

that  I  risked  throwing  away  the  very  effect  that  I'd 

104 


THE    PRISONER, 

worked  for?  God  knows,  I  realized  the  dangers  in 
volved.  I  knew  that  for  success  I  had  to  get  so  close 
to  you  that  we  would  be  like  two  sides  of  the  same 
man  talking  to  each  other.  But  I  let  myself  get 
trapped  into  a  lunatic  weakness  for  the  other  side, 
till  it  took  over  and  made  me  abominate  what  I'd 
achieved. 

PRISONER:  If  you  had  to  do  it  again,  you  would.  For 
you,  your  cause  will  always  be  right. 
INTERROGATOR:  Yes. 

\The  Interrogator  goes  up  the  stairs  to  the  door,  knocks  on  it 
and  calls.} 

Stephen ! 

[He  returns  at  once  to  the  right  of  the  chair.  The  door  opens 
and  the  cell  Warder  lets  in  the  Secretary  who  hurries  to 
the.  foot  of  the  stairs.} 

Stephen,  I  want  you  to  arrange  a  meeting  for  me  with 
the  General  at  once.  Say  that  I  must  see  him  within 
the  next  hour.  And  have  all  my  keys  and  important 
papers  where  they  can  be  got  at  easily,  will  you? — 
And  Stephen — watch  yourself.  There's  no  need  for 
you  to  be  mixed  up  in  this. 

\The  Secretary,  after  a  da^ed  moment,  goes  out.} 

I'm  resigning  my  post  at  the  Ministry  of  Justice. 
(He  crosses  upstage  of  the  chair  and  looks  out  of  the  down 
stage  window.}  You  can't  be  prepared  to  commit 
treason  and  trust  yourself  again.  The  time  will  come 
when  they'll  have  to  set  people  on  my  staff  to  watch 
me.  Rustling  through  my  papers.  Tapping  my  tele 
phone.  And  I  shall  have  to  face  the  fact  that  they 

105 


ACT    THREE,    SCENE    TWO 

would  be  justified — that  they'll  be  right.    No.    I 

won't  wait  for  that. 

PRISONER  :  What  next — for  you,  then  ? 

INTERROGATOR:  An    end    to    me,    probably,    quite 

soon.  There  won't  be  room  for  long  for  a  man  who's 

too — fastidious  to  trust. 

PRISONER  :  That's  your  war.  Every  story  is  the  story 

of  one  man's  war.  The  setting,  the  battle-field  is  only 

incidental. 

INTERROGATOR  :  You  have  your  religion. 

PRISONER:  I  was  never  a  man  to  whom  religion  was 

a  consolation.   I  want  no  consolation.    (He  moves  to 

the  table  and  picks  up  the  reprieve?)  I  wanted  the  worst, 

and  they've  thought  of  it — they,  or  God — thank  God. 

Well.  I'm  ready. 

]The  Interrogator  signs  the  certificate  on  the  table.] 

INTERROGATOR:  Your  discharge  certificate  of  physi 
cal  and  mental  health.  An  appropriate  use  for  my 
last  official  signature. 

[He  hands  the  certificate  to  the  Prisoner  and  steps  towards 
the  stairs.  He  stops  when  the  Prisoner  speaks.] 

PRISONER:  Thank  you.  (He  pockets  the  certificate  and 
the  reprieve.)  Have  you  a  plain  piece  of  paper  ? 

[The  Interrogator  takes  a  piece  of  paper  from  his  pocket '.] 
(Taking  the  paper.)  He  thought  I'd  like  the  kidneys. 

\The  Interrogator  goes  to  the  door  and  exits  to  find  the 
cell  Warder.  The  Prisoner  takes  the  lid  off  the  kidney 
plate \  and  tips  the  kidneys  into  the  piece  of  paper.  He 
just  achieves  this  before  the  cell  Warder  enters,  followed  by 
the  Interrogator.  The  ROOM  Warder  stays  at  the  door.] 

1 06 


THE    PRISONER 

WARDER:  Ready?  You've  got  a  reception  committee 
and  a  half  out  there — mobs  of  'em!  (He  hands  the 
Prisoner  his  cross  and  ring.) 

[The  Prisoner  kisses  the  cross  and  puts  it  on.} 

INTERROGATOR:  A  crowd? 

WARDER:  Never  seen  such  a  crowd.   And  dead  still. 

Give  you  the  creeps.    (He  puts  the  feriola  round  the 

Prisoners  shoulders?)  Dead  still,  all  looking  this  way — 

as  if  they  were  waiting,  sir. 

INTERROGATOR  :  Turn  out  the  prison  staff  and  get  that 

square   cleared   at   once.    Do   you   understand?    I 

don't  want  a  living  soul  in  that    square    in    ten 

minutes'  time. 

WARDER:  But — there's  hundreds  of  them.   You  can't 

say  they're  doing  any  harm,  just  quite  still — as  if 

they  were  listening. 

INTERROGATOR:  Call  out  the  police  and  have  the 

pkce  cleared. 

PRISONER:  No.   (He puts  on  the  ring) 

INTERROGATOR:  You    can't   walk   out   of  here   in 

broad  daylight  into  that.   It's  madness. 

PRISONER  :  Don't  clear  the  square.    (There  is  a  pause  > 

then  he  starts  to  walk  downstage  of  the  table?)   You  can't 

empty  the  world  for  me  forever.   (He  turns  upstage  to 

the  stairs?)  Those  are  my  victims,  and  my  judges,  and 

my  future.    (He  continues  up  the  stairs  and  disappears 

from  sight.) 

INTERROGATOR  (calling  up  through  the  grille) :  Open  up. 

WARDER:  It's  all  open,  right  through. 

[There  is  a  pause.  The  Warder  goes  to  the  table  to  clear  it) 

Ah,  well,  I  don't  suppose  we  shall  have  his  room  on 
our  hands  for  long.  .  .  .  (He  picks  up  the  kidney 

'107 


ACT  THREE,   SCENE  TWO 

plate.)  There,  he  liked  his  kidneys !  I  knew  he  would. 
(He  turns  to  put  the  plate  on  the  tray  on  the  bed.)  We  get 
to  know  about  human  nature  in  our  profession, 
don't  we  ? 
INTERROGATOR:  Yes.   We  do. 


Curtain 


108 


THE  SCHOOL  FOR  WIVES 

by 


MOLIEKE 


free  version  by 
MILES  MALLESON 


Copyright  1954  by  Miles  Malkson 


All  applications  for  permission  to  perform  this  play, 
whether  by  amateurs  or  professionals,  must  be  made  to 
Samuel  French  Ltd.  26  Southampton  Street,  Strand, 
London,  W.C.z.  No  performance  may  take  place  unless 
a  licence  has  previously  been  obtained. 


The  School  for  Wives  was  presented  at  the  Theatre 
Royal,  Bristol  on  April  6th,  1954,  by  the  Arts 
Council  of  Great  Britain  and  the  Old  Vic  Trust, 
Ltd.,  with  the  following  cast: 

CHRYSALDE  Eric  Porter 

ARNOLPHE  Miles  Malleson 

ALAIN  John  Warner 

GEORGETTE  Pat  Heywood 

AGNES  Christine  Finn 

HORACE  Michael  M.eacham 

ORONTE  A.lan  Dobie 

ENRIQUE  Basz!  Henson 

The  play  produced  by  Denis  Carey. 
Settings  designed  by  Patrick  Robertson. 


CHARACTERS 

ARNOLPHE,  a  rich  man  (of  about  fifty) 

CHRYSALDE,  his  friend 

ORONTE,  another  friend 

ENRIQUE,  who  has  been  in  America 

HORACE,  Oronte^s  son 

ALAIN,  a  countryman  ~\  Servants  oj 

GEORGETTE,  a  countrywoman  j  A.rnolphe 

AGNES 


ACT  ONE 

A  Street  Scene  in  Pans 

ACT  TWO 

Inside  The  House 

ACT  THREE 

The  Same 


The  action  takes  place  inside  and  outside  a  house  owned  by 
Seigneur  Arnolphe:  in  Paris  about  1660. 


ACT    ONE 


Scene:  A  Street  in  Paris.   1660. 

Two  men>  in  middle-age,  enter.  Arnolphe  and  CbrjsaMe. 

CHRYSALDE:  Can  I  believe  my  ears  ? 

You  mean  to  marry  her?? 

ARNOLPHE:     Indeed    I'm    here    in    Paris    for    the 
wedding. 

But  a  few  days,  and  she  will  be  my  wife  ! 
CHRYSALDE:   Then  let  me  seize  this  opportunity  — 

perhaps  the  last  — 

to  tell  you  what  I  think! 

as  a  friend,  my  dear  good  Arnolphe, 
as  a  friend. 

For  anyone,  at  any  time,  to  take  a  wife 

is  something  of  a  hazard. 

But,  for  j/0#  —  the  risk  is  terrible  \ 
ARNOLPHE  :     Doubtless  you  speak  out  of  your  own 
experience! 

You    took    the    hazard;    and    you've 
learned  the  risks  ! 

Has  your  wife  made  you  a  laughing 
stock  ? 

Have  you  the  cuckold's  horns  ? 
CHRYSALDE:  No.  I  don't  think  so! 

In  any  case,  Fm  not  aware  of  them  ! 
ARNOLPHE:     You  will  be  !  Make  no  doubt  of  that  ! 

They'll  sprout!  They'll  sprout!  — 

You  have  'em  on  the  brain! 

CHRYSALDE  :  It's  always  possible  I  may  be  made  a  fool 
of— 

as  you  say  — 

And  yet,  to  me,  the  biggest  fool  — 

as  I  see  life,  my  friend  — 

is  he  that  lets  himself  be  tortured; 

tortures  himself,  and  suffers  agonies; 


ACT    ONE 

when,    in    reality,    the    pain's    quite 

bearable ! 

Why  turn  Misfortune  into  Calamity  ? 
But  I  fear  for  you. 
I  give  you  solemn  warning. 
Marriage,    for   you,   is    a   far    greater 

menace, 
than  for  any  other  man,  throughout  the 

whole  of  Paris. 

ARNOLPHE  :     Ridiculous 

CHRYSALDE:  But  true. 

And  for  this  reason: 

all  your  life,  you  have  poured  scorn 

upon  your  married  friends. 

When  things  went  wrong  with  them, 

you've   laughed;     and    mocked;     and 

never  spared  their  feelings. 
With  reason;   or  without. 
ARNOLPHE:    Always  with  reason. 

Is  there  another  city  in  the  world 
where  husbands  suffer  such  indignities, 
and  bear  their  miserable  lot  with  such 

humility  ? 

CHRYSALDE:  Oh,  you  exaggerate! 
ARNOLPHE:    Indeed  I  don't! 

You  are  a  man  with  eyes ! 

Then  look  about  you ! 

Look! 

What  do  you  see  ? 

There!  .  .  .  There's  a  man  making  a 

fortune. — 

And  his  wife  spending  it  for  him. — 
But  with  other  men. 
There's  another! 
Smiling    and    smirking    over    all    the 

presents 

114 


THE    SCHOOL    FOR    WIVES 

that  his  wife  receives. 

And  believing  her, 

when  she  assures  him  they  are  hers  by 

right 
because  she's  such  a  noble  character. 

CHRYSALDE:  But  really 

A  RNOLPHE  :     Wait ! 

There's  one  who  actually  dares  to  doubt 

her  story 

and  makes  his  protest 

It  does  him  little  good. 

Gets  himself  told  that  he's  insensitive ! 

Shows  a  sad  lack  of  trust ! 

In  fact,  married  to  such  as  he, 

anything  a  woman  does  is  fully  justified ! 

He'd  better  have  held  his  tongue. 

And  there's  another! 

Oh,  a  fine  fellow ! — the  pick  of  all  the 

bunch  1 

Accepts  the  situation! 
And  when  the  lover  calls, 
loaded  with  gifts, 
opens  the  door  for  him,  takes  his  hat  and 

stick, 
and  bows  him  welcome  to  a  happy 

home! 

Oh  these  Husbands ! 
And  these  Wives!  These  Women! 
Up  to  every  trick ! 
I  know  a  wife,  who  takes  her  husband 

into  her  confidence. 
And  whispers  to  him — 
all  about  her  luckless  would-be  lover. 
Till  the  poor  oaf  pities  the  other  man. 
But  when  his  back  is  turned — 
there's  no  one  to  be  pitied,  but  himself! 


ACT    ONE 


I  know  another  wife: — 

to  explain  the  sums  of  money  that  she 
spends, 

boasts  that  she  wins  "  at  play  ". 

And  her  fool  husband, 

gloating  on  her  gains, 

never  realises  the  kind  of  play ! 

Look  where  you  will,  there's  matter  for 

a  laugh. 
CHRYSALDE  :   That's  what  I  mean. 

And  there  your  danger  lies. 

I  make  no  boast  of  it — 

merely  I  find  no  mirth  in  other  people's 
pain. 

I  don't  exult. 

So,  should  I  become  a  laughing-stock — 

the  phrase  is  yours — 

maybe  they  will  not  laugh. 

Even,  they  might  be  sorry  for  me. 

But  not  so  with  you ! 

They're  waiting  for  you,  man! 

Give  them  the  slightest  pretext — 
ARNOLPHE  :     But  I'll  not. 

Don't  waste  your  sympathy  on  me! 

There  isn't  any  need. 

I've  been  too  clever  for  'em. 

They'll  never  get  the  chance  to  mock  at 
me. 

I  know  the  risks  you  speak  of;    very 
well; 

and  knowing,  laid  my  plans. 

This  girl,  to  be  my  wife,  is  innocent. 
CHRYSALDE:   So  are  they  all,  at  some  time  in  their 

lives ! 

ARNOLPHE:     Yes,  but  she's  more  than  that. 
CHRYSALDE:  How  so? 

116 


THE    SCHOOL    FOR    WIVES 

ARNOLPHE:     She's  ignorant. 

CHRYSALDE:  Of  what? 

ARNOLPHE:     Of  everything.    She's  to  be  taught  by 

me. 

CHRYSALDE  :  Taught  what  ? 
ARNOLPHE  :     The  things  I'd  have  her  know. 
CHRYSALDE:  Are  you  to  be  a  husband,  or  a  school-  _ 

master  ? 
ARNOLPHE  :     Something  of  both ! 

And  my  household  is  to  be  a  school  for 

wives ! — 

You  have  a  charming  and  a  clever  wife. 
CHRYSALDE  :  I'm  glad  you  think  so ! 
ARNOLPHE:     A  clever  wife's  a  very  bad  investment! 
You  think  you're  safe,  but  never  can  be 

sure. 

Indeed  a  wife  who  reads  and  writes 
knows  more  than's  good  for  herl 
She  can  read  love-letters — 
and  w±ite  'em,  too ! 
I  shall  be  well  content 
if  mine  can  sew  and  spin, 
look  to  my  table, 
and  can  say  her  prayers. 
CHRYSALDE:  My  God,  dear  friend,  it  all  sounds  very 

dull! 

A  wife  who's  stupid ! 
ARNOLPHE:     I  prefer  stupidity  that's  all  my  own 

to  Wit  and  Beauty  that  I  share  with 

others. 
CHRYSALDE:   Ridiculous! 

ARNOLPHE :      But  tTUC ! — 

I've  seen  it  all  too  often! 
If  a  clever  woman  makes  up  her  mind — 
Well,  that's  the  end  of  it  ...  or  the 
beginning ! 

"7 


ACT    ONE 

They  have  no  Principles. 

Except  the  one  that  suits  them  at  the 

time. 
And  that  they  use  to  put  us  in  the 

wrong. 

Give  me  a  fool! 
CHRYSALDE:  I'll  say  no  more. 
ARNOLPHE:  But  you  can  listen! 

I  know  what  I'm  about. 

Fm  rich. 

She'll  be  dependent  on  me.  Absolutely. 

And  she's  very  sweet;   and  loyal; 

and  looks  up  to  me. 

I  fell  in  love  with  her  when  she  was  just 

a  child, 

and  quite  adorable! 
She's  an  orphan — 
or,  I  presume  she  is. 
Would  you  believe  it: 
her  parents  left  her  in  some  woman's 

care, 

and  went  abroad; 
arranging  to  send  money — 
but  which  never  came ! 
And  when  I  met  them  first, 
the  woman,  having  not  a  penny  of  her 

own, 

was  in  despair. 

And,  quite  naturally,  was  overjoyed 
when  I  suggested  I  should  take  the 

child, 

and  send  her  to  a  Convent. 
Which  I  did. 

Giving  my  instructions  to  the  Nuns, 
as  to  her  education — 
CHRYSALDE:  — or  her  lack  of  it! 

118 


THE    SCHOOL    FOR    WIVES 

ARNOLPHE  :     The  Nuns  have  sent  her  back  to  me, 
exactly  as  I  would; 

A  virgin  page — for  me  to  write  upon. 
A  stripling  vine — for  me  to  shape  its 

growth. 

CHRYSALDE:   She's  to  be  scribbled  on, 
and  tied  against  a  wall — 
d'you  think  she'll  like  it  ? 
ARNOLPHE:     My  dear  good  fellow,  but  you  miss  the 

point ! 
When  she  has  learned  what  I  shall  have 

to  teach, 

she'll  like  what  Hike; 
enjoy  what  I  enjoy. 
There'll  be  no  room  for  differences; 
for  quarrels  and  disputes; 
for  all  the  things  that  spoil  the  name  of 

marriage. 

Now,  d'you  see  my  drift  ? 
A  man  who  wants  a  perfect  wife, 
must  make  her  for  himself! 
He'll  not  obtain  one  any  other  way. 
CHRYSALDE:   And  when,  my  dear  fellow,  can  I  meet 

the  girl  ? 

This  Perfect  Nothingness ! 
This  lovely  empty  bowl — 
in  which  you  mean  to  pour  your  very 

self, 
creating  a  personality  to  be  the  twin  of 

yours. 
ARNOLPHE  :     Tomorrow. 

You'll  sup  with  us  tomorrow ! 
CHRYSALDE:   That's  very  kind  of  you. 
Indeed,  I  thank  you. 
Tomorrow — at<your  house. 
ARNOLPHE  :     Not  at  my  house. 

119 


ACT    ONE 

Not  at  the  one  you  know. 
CHRYSALDE  :  What's  this  ? 

ARNOLPHE:     My  house  in  Paris  is  always  very  full. 
People    coming    and    going;     to    be 

entertained; 
where  she  might  learn  much  she  is  not 

to  learn. 
I  keep  her  to  myself.  Close.  In  another 

house. 

CHRYSALDE:  Alone? 
ARNOLPHE:     With  two  servants. 

Both  as  simple  as  she  is  herself. 
This  is  the  place. 

[He  points  to  the  front  door  of  a  house  outside  of  which 
they  are.] 

CHRYSALDE:  This?  And  what's  her  name? 
ARNOLPHE:     Agnes!    Her  name  is  Agnes;    and  she 

lives  here. 

And  that  reminds  me! 
Here  I  am  not  the  "  Arnolphe  "  that 

you  know. 

My  name  is  here  "  La  Souche  ". 
CHRYSALDE:  You've  changed  your  name ?  Whatever 

for? 
ARNOLPHE:    For  reasons  of  my  own:  "  La  Souche  " 

— you'll  not  forget  ? 

CHRYSALDE:   "  La  Souche  " — I  shall  remember. 
ARNOLPHE:    Here,  then,  tomorrow! 
CHRYSALDE:  I  can  hardly  wait. 
ARNOLPHE:    And  you're  the  only  one  of  all  my 

friends 

I'd  trust  in  such  a  way. 

CHRYSALDE  r  My  good* — now,  what's  the  name? 
ARNOLPHE:    La  Souche. 

120 


THE    SCHOOL    FOR    WIVES 

CHRYSALDE:  My    good    La    Souche,    I    prize    the 

compliment. 

ARNOLPHE:     It's  from  my  heart. 
CHRYSALDE  :   So  has  its  place  in  mine. 
ARNOLPHE:     Praise  God  we  met. 
CHRYSALDE  :  I  say  Amen  to  that. 

(Then,  as  he  turns  and  goes)  The  Pompous 

Ass! 
ARNOLPHE      (As  he  turns  to  the  front  door):  The  Silly 

Idiot! 

[And  with  the  knob  of  his  stick  he  knocks  on  the  front  door 
of  the  house^\ 


(Shouting  as  he  knocks)  Hullo!    Hullo!! 
Hullo!!! 


[The  Lights  fade. 


szc,  which  continues,  until  the  Lights  come  up  again  ,  Inside 
the  house,  in  a  room  just  the  other  side  of  the  front  door. 

Two  servants  are  in  the  room.    Alain,  a  man,  'who  is 
busy  at  the  fireplace,  and 

Georgette,  a  woman,  who  Is  busy  at  a  birdcage. 

At  once  we  hear  Arnolphe's  knocking  and  hear  his  voice.} 

ARNOLPHE      (of):  Hullo!  .  .  .  Hullo!!  .  .  .  Hullo!!! 

[The  servants  continue  what  they  are  doing.   A  battery  of 
knocks  follows^ 

ALAIN  (to  Georgette):  Can't  you  hear  ?  There's 

someone  knocking  — 
open  the  door. 

121 


ACT    ONE 

GEORGETTE:  I  thought  you  must  be  deaf.    Open  it 

yourself. 

ALAIN:  It's  not  my  place. 

GEORGETTE:  Nor  mine. 
ARNOLPHE      (calling):  Alain!  Georgette! 
ALAIN  :  The  Master ! 

GEORGETTE  :  Quick,  man — let  him  in ! 
ALAIN  (turning  back  to  his  fireplace) :  I'm  busy 

with  my  fire! 
GEORGETTE    (back  to  her  birdcage) :  I  have  to  mind  my 

sparrow. 
ARNOLPHE      (off):  I'm     losing     patience!      Open! 

Open,  I  say ! ! 
ALAIN  (getting  busier  than  ever) :  No  getting  it  to 

light! 
GEORGETTE    (making  bird  noises  into   the  cage):  My 

sweet!  My  pretty  sweet! 
ARNOLPHE      (off):  Can't  you  hear  me? 

One  of  you,  or  both,  will  pay  for  this ! 

\Eotb  servants  stop  what  they  are  doing  to  listen^ 

(off}  The  one  of  you  who  doesn't  open 

this  door  for  me, 
Goes  without  food — and  for  three  days ! 

[They  both  scuttle  to  the  door — and  collide^ 

GEORGETTE  :  Where  are  you  coming  to  ? 

ALAIN:  Opening  the  door. 

GEORGETTE:  It's  not  your  place.  You  mind  your  fire. 

ALAIN  :  The  cat'll  get  your  sparrow. 

GEORGETTE:  We  haven't  got  a  cat. 

[Another  volley  of  knocks  They  arrive  together  at  the  door, 
and  throw  it  open,} 

122 


THE    SCHOOL    FOR    WIVES 

ARNOLPHE      (entering) :  Here's  a  fine  welcome !  After 

a  week  away! 
Which  of  you's  to  blame  ? 
ALAIN  :  Not  me. 

GEORGETTE:  Nor  me. 
ARNOLPHE  :     Which  of  you  opened  it  ? 
ALAIN:  Me. 

GEORGETTE:  No.   Me. 
ALAIN  :  We  opened  it  together. 

ARNOLPHE  :     Enough  of  this.  .  .  .  Well !   And  how 

is  she? 

GEORGETTE:  Blooming. 
ARNOLPHE  :     And  has  she  missed  me  ? 
ALAIN  :  No. 

ARNOLPHE:     What's  that?   Surely  you  mean  Yes. 
ALAIN:  Yes,  I  mean  No. 

ARNOLPHE:    Eh? 

GEORGETTE:  Master,  she's  had  no  time. 
ARNOLPHE:     No  time? 
GEORGETTE:  To  miss  you. 
ARNOLPHE:     What's  she  been  doing? 
GEORGETTE:  Every    moment    of   the    day,    Good 

Master, 

since  you  went  away,  she's  been  ex 
pecting  you. 
At  every  sound  and  footstep  in  the 

street, 
rushing  across  her  room,  she'd  throw 

her  window  wide 

Her  eyes  examined  every  passer-by. 
NOLPHE  :         Good,  very  good ! 
ALAIN:  And  not  a  Donkey,  Mule  or  Ass  went 

past, 

she  thought  it  must  be  you. 
ARNOLPHE:     She's  up  there  now? 
ALAIN:  She 'must  have  heard  you  knock. 


ACT    ONE 


GEORGETTE:  And  she'll  be  coming  down. 
ARNOLPHE:     Ah! — Here  she  is. 

[Agnes  appears.    Very  pretty;  very  demure;  just  growing 
from  a.  girl  into  womanhood^ 

And  with  her  sewing,  too.    That's  as 

I'd  have  her. 

And  are  you  well,  my  dear  ? 
AGNES:  Yes,  sir.   Very  well. 

ARNOLPHE:     And  happy? 
AGNES  :  Yes.  Very  happy. 

ARNOLPHE:     Then  I'm  happy   too — You  have  no 

complaints  ? 

AGNES:  No,  sir* — Except  my  bed. 

ARNOLPHE:     Your  bed ?  What's  wrong  with  it  ? 
AGNES:  You  see,  I  get  no  rest. 

ARNOLPHE  :     No  rest  ?  For  Heaven's  sake,  dear  child, 

what  d'you  mean  ? 
AGNES  :  I  hardly  like  to  say. 

ARNOLPHE      (to  Georgette) :  What  can  she  mean  ? 
GEORGETTE:  Well,  good  Master — you  can  be  assured 
there's  no  one  with  her,  to  disturb  her 

rest! 

AGNES  :  If  there  were  only  one ! 

ARNOLPHE:     Only  one! 
GEORGETTE:  What  are  you  talking  of ? 
AGNES:  Fleas. 

GEORGETTE:  Fleas!! 
ARNOLPHE      (laughing)-.  Oh!     How  you   frightened 

me! 

For  one  awful  moment,  I  was  afraid — 
AGNES:  Afraid!  Afraid  of  what? 

Why  should  you  be  afraid? 
ARNOLPHE:     Oh,  no  matter — and  no  need  to  ask. 
I  love  your  innocence. 

124 


THE    SCHOOL    FOR    WIVES 

Forget  the  fleas! 

Remember  very  soon  I  shall  be  there  to 

catch  'em! 

AGNES  :  I  shall  be  glad  of  that. 

ARNOLPHE:     I  make  no  doubt  you  will. 
AGNES  :  They'll  take  you  all  your  time. 

ARNOLPHE:     My  pretty  sweet — perhaps  not  all  of  it. 
What   have   we  here?     (Indicating  her 

sewing.} 

AGNES  :  A  new  night  cap,  sir,  for  you. 

ARNOLPHE  :     I  shall  look  well  in  it ! 

Now,  back  to  your  room! 

Before  I  go  this  evening  I  shall  have 

much  to  tell  you 

of  the  wedding;    and  how  you're  to 
behave. 

[She  makes  a  Uttle  curtsey  to  him.~\ 

Oh,  you  look  lovely. 

[She  turns  and  goes.  .  .  .  He  watches  her  go.  .  .  . 
Then  turns  to  the  servants.   They  busy  themselves  at  some 
household  tasks.} 

Oh,  ladies !  Dear  sweet  ladies 

who  know  so  much  of  Life! 

With    all    your    learning,    all    your 

cleverness, 
your  wit,  your  wiles,  your  genius  for 

intrigue, 

your  beauty,  your  attractiveness — 
all  that's  as  nothing  to  me ! — nothing ! — 
against  the  simple  modesty  of  this  dear 

gkl 

I  mean  to  make  my  Wife — 
to  be  my  Other  Self!  .  .  . 

125 


ACT    ONE 

[The  Lights  fade  .  .  .  Musk  which  continues,  until  the 
Lights  come  up  again.  Out  in  the  Street  again  on  the  other 
side  of  the  front  door;  and  Arnolphe  is  coming  out  of 
it.  .  .  .  As  he  does  so  a  Young  Gentleman  enters  from 
the  opposite  side  of  the  stage ,  and  observes  him.  They  meet, 
as  Arnolphe  walks  from  his  front  door.] 

HORACE:         Surely,  it's  Seigneur  Arnolphe! 
ARNOLPHE:     That  is,  or  was,  my  name. 
HORACE          (a  low  bow) :  Good  Seigneur  Arnolphe ! 
ARNOLPHE      (a  slight  boiv) :  Young  sir ! 

Although  I  must  confess  I  don't  know 

who  you  are. 
HORACE:        Oh  yes,  you  do. 

You  knew  my  father  well. 
ARNOLPHE:    Your  father. 
HORACE:        And  my  name  is  Horace. 
ARNOLPHE  :     It  isn't ! 
HORACE:        It  is. 
ARNOLPHE:     My  old  friend's  son! 
HORACE  :        He  often  speaks  of  you. 
ARNOLPHE:     He's  often  in  my  thoughts. 

Well,  well  and  well! 

Last  time  I  saw  you,  you  were  half  the 
si2e. 

I  make  no  doubt  you've  heard  as  much 

before ! 
HORACE:        It's  the  way  that  every  elder  starts  a 

conversation  1 
ARNOLPHE:     Oh,  but  I'm  glad  to  see  you. 

How  long  have  you  been  in  Paris  ? 
HORACE:        Nine  days. 

And  the  first  hour  of  the  first  day 

I  visited  your  house. 

But  they  knew  nothing  of  you. 

126 


THE    SCHOOL    FOR    WIVES 


ARNOLPHE:     I've   been  away  on   business,   in   the 

country. 

Now  tell  me  of  your  father.  Is  he  well  ? 
HORACE:        Yes.  Very. 
ARNOLPHE  :     As  young  as  ever  ? 
HORACE:        Younger. 
ARNOLPHE:     He  makes  a  mock  of  Time.    Defying 

age. 

HORACE:         I  have  a  letter  for  you  from  him. 
ARNOLPHE:     Give  it  to  me. 

[He  takes  the  letter.     While  he  is  reading  it    Horace 
continues^ 

HORACE:         I  had  a  letter  from  him  yesterday; 

Saying  he  hoped  to  join  me. 
ARNOLPHE:     That's  good  news. 
HORACE:         He  mentioned,  too,  a  mutual  friend  of 

yours. 

ARNOLPHE  :     A  mutual  friend  ? 
HORACE:         Who's  made  a  fortune  in  America. 
ARNOLPHE:     America!  Where's  that? 
HORACE  :         It's  where  he's  made  a  fortune. 
ARNOLPHE  :     Does  your  father  mention  his  name  ? 
HORACE          (consulting  the  letter] :  Enrique. 
ARNOLPHE:     Enrique?  I  don't  remember  I 

[Having  read  the  letter;  folding  it;  and  putting  it  away.] 

He  asks  me  here  to  treat  you  as  a  son. 

I'd  have  done  that,  without  the  asking. 

Is  there  anything,  in  any  way, 

that  I  can  do  for  you  ? 
HORACE  :         I'm  short  of  money  1 
ARNOLPHE  :     How  much  do  you  want  ? 
HORACE:        A  hundred  pistoles. 

127 


ACT    ONE 


ARNOLPHE 
HORACE : 

ARNOLPHE: 


HORACE: 
ARNOLPHE: 


HORACE : 


ARNOLPHE: 


HORACE: 


(handing    him     a    purse}-.  Here's     two 

hundred. 
Oh,  sir!    To  be  repaid  you,  when  my 

father  comes 

Of  course,  of  course. 

I'm  very  grateful  that  you  took  me  at 

my  word. 

And  this  is  your  first  visit  ? 
Yes. 

Well,  what  do  you  think  of  us  ? 
And  how  does  Paris  strike  you  ? 
It's  very  full  of  people! 
Some  of  the  buildings  are  magnificent. 
And,  I  should  imagine,  that  a  man — 

with  money  in  his  pocket 
could  lead  a  perfect  life. 
That's  very  true. 
For  here,  a  man  may  satisfy  his  every 

appetite. 

For  food;   for  Art;  for  learning;   and 
for  Love. 

You'll  find  our  women  most  accessible, 
blonde  and  brunette  alike. 
And  the  husbands  too! 
Just  as  accommodating ! 
For  they'll  not  interfere. 
Things  happen  here  in  Paris  every  day 
fit  for  a  story-book. 
Nine  days  you've  been  here! 
Nothing  started  yet! 
You  disappoint  me. 
You're  a  young  man  to  catch  a  woman's 

eye. 

Well— to  tell  the  truth— 
you  rather  drag  it  from  me — 
something  has  started. 


128 


THE    SCHOOL    FOR    WIVES 

ARNOLPHE:     Oh!  It  has\ 

HORACE:        I  think  I  must  be  the  luckiest  man  on 

earth. 

ARNOLPHE:     Hey,  hey,  what's  this?? 
HORACE:        I've  lost  my  heart! 
ARNOLPHE:     You  call  that  lucky! 
HORACE:        Yes. 

For  I  have  another  in  exchange. 

And  she  has  mine. 
ARNOLPHE:  Good;  very  good. 
HORACE  :  Her  heart  in  me,  fills  me  with  ecstasy, 

and  then  I  have  to  hold  her  very  close, 

to  hear  my  own  heart  beat. 
ARNOLPHE  :     You're  doing  very  well ! 

You'll  be  another  history  for  my  Case 
book! 
HORACE:         Please;    if  I  tell  you,  you'll  keep  it  to 

yourself? 

ARNOLPHE  :     Of  course,  of  course. 
HORACE:         Strangely,  the  whole  thing  came  about 
almost  by  chance. 

Quite  by  chance,  I  saw  her. 

I  couldn't  believe  my  eyes. 

Such  dazzling  loveliness. 

I   acknowledged  her  beauty — as   any 
body  would — 

and  she  responded! 
ARNOLPHE:     What  did  you  expect?? 
HORACE:         Oh,  but  so  simply;   and  so  naturally — 

as  one  would  wish  a  woman  to, 

and  they  so  seldom  do — 

And  then, 

before  she  took  my  heart,  she  took  my 
breath  away. 

Asked  me  to  visit  her! 

Which  I  have  done! 

Beyond  all  reason,  the  affair  progresses. 

5  129 


ACT    ONE 

ARNOLPHE:     Oh,  this  is  splendid! 

More!  You  must  tell  me  more! 

Who  is  she?  What's  her  name?  Where 

does  she  live  ? 

HORACE  :        Her  name  is  Agnes ;  and  she  lives  here. 
ARNOLPHE      (with  a  cry) :  Merciful  God ! ! 
HORACE:         Good  sir,  you're  ill! 
ARNOLPHE  :     A  twinge ! 

A  touch  of  giddiness. 

I'll  just  sit  here. 

[There  is  a  bench  in  the  street \ 

It'll  pass.  It's  nothing  serious. 

At  least  I  hope  it's  not. 

Tell  me  more. 
HORACE:         As  it  turned  out,  my  little  Beautiful — 

If  you  could  see  her,  oh,  she's  exquisite. 
ARNOLPHE:     Oh!! 
HORACE:        Sir! 
ARNOLPHE:     Another  twinge  ! 
HORACE:        Well,  this  Simplicity  and  Naturalness  I 
told  you  of — 

Indeed  this  is  a  story  for  your  case 
book — 

is  simply  Ignorance. 

There's  some  old  man — 

can  you  imagine  such  stupidity — 

who  shields  her  from  the  world. 

God !  He  must  be  a  fool  1 
ARNOLPHE:     Oh!! 

HORACE:        Dear  sir 

ARNOLPHE:     I  have  a  cramp. 

Go  on,  go  on,  go  on. 

HORACE:         Somehow    this    Ignorance    gives    her 
added  charm. 


130 


THE    SCHOOL    FOR    WIVES 

It  seems  a  pity  that  she  has  to  learn ! 
ARNOLPHE  :     Aah ! 

HORACE  :         Sir,  you're  in  pain 

ARNOLPHE:     A  touch  of  gout! — 

But  tell  me:    this  old  fool?    You've 

seen  him  ? 
HORACE  :        Indeed  I've  not.  Nor  am  I  likely  to. 

His    name's   La    Souche — not   that   it 
matters. 

I've  made  up  my  mind. 

Here  is  this  lovely  jewel  of  a  girl; 

I'll  not  leave  her  to  Methuselah — 

I'll  have  her  for  myself 

and  the  two  hundred  pistoles  that  you 
let  me  have 

will  make  that  possible. 
ARNOLPHE      {giving  a  howl} :  Ow ! 
HORACE:         Sir!  What's  the  matter? 
ARNOLPHE:     The  wind!  I  have  the  wind. 
HORACE  :         I  hardly  like  to  leave  you  here  alone. 
ARNOLPHE  :     I'd  rather  you  didn't  wait ! 

I  shall  stay  here  awhile ; 

and  then  go  home. 

HORACE:        You'll  keep  it  to  yourself? 
ARNOLPHE  :     The  wind  ? 
HORACE:         What  I  have  told  you. 
ARNOLPHE:     Indeed  I  will. 
HORACE  :         Not  even  tell  my  father. 

He  might  disapprove. 
ARNOLPHE:     You  can  trust  me — 

as  far  as  I'd  trust  you. 
HORACE  :         Next  time  we  meet, 

and  make  no  doubt  of  it, 

I  shall  have  more  to  tell. 


[He  turns  to  go.] 


131 


ACT    ONE 

ARNOLPHE:    Aah! 

HORACE          (turning  bacty:  You  spoke? 

ARNOLPHE:     No,  only  belched. 

HORACE:        If  there's  a  wiser  man  in  all  of  Paris 

than  Seigneur  Arnolphe,  I'd  like  to  meet 
him. 

(Going)  Oh!   That  fool  La  Souchell 

[And  laughing,  he  disappears.} 

ARNOLPHE:     Thank  God  he's  gone! 

I   couldn't   have    contained   myself  a 
moment  longer. 
And  thank  God  he  chattered — 
We're  all  the  same,  we  Frenchmen; 
a  promising  intrigue,  we  have  to  boast 

about  it. 

Which  is  as  well  for  husbands ! 
I  think  the  God  of  Virtue  made  us 

so.  ... 
Oh,  why  did  I  let  him  go  before  he  told 

me  more  ? 

I  may  be  glad  he's  gone, 
but  I've  yet  to  know 
how  far  he  may  have  gone! 
Now,  let  me  think. 
What  did  he  say? 
That  she'd  invited  him; 
he'd  been  received. 
Why,  then  the  servants  must  have  let 

him  in! 

The  rascal  pair ! 
The  treacherous  couple ! ! 
My  God,  I'll  deal  with  them! 

[He  leaps  up  from  the  seat,,  shouting.} 
132 


THE    SCHOOL    FOR    WIVES 

Akin!  .  .  .  Georgette!  .  .  . 

[He  goes  to  the  door  of  his  house  and>  throwing  it  open., 
disappears  througfc  /"/,  still  shouting^ 

Georgette!!  .  .  .  Alain!! 

\The  Lights  fade.  Music  which  continues.,  until  the  Lights 
come  up.  Inside  the  room.  Arnolphe  has  just  burst  in, 
shouting^ 

ARNOLPHE:  Georgette  .  .  .  Georgette  . .  .  Alain.  .  .  . 
[He  jells  at  the  top  of  his  voice, ,] 

Where  are  you  both? 
Alain ! !  Alain !  1 !   Where  are  you  ? 
ALAIN  (^putting  his  head  round  a  corner) :  Master, 

did  you  call  ? 
ARNOLPHE:     What  d'you  think  I'm  doing  ?  Talking 

to  myself? 

Where's  the  other  one  ? 
Georgette ! ! ! ! 
GEORGETTE    (^putting  her  head  round  another  corner)  \ 

Did  I  hear  your  voice  ? 
ARNOLPHE:     I  shouldn't  be  surprised! 

And  you'll  hear  more  of  it. 
Come  here;  the  pair  of  you. 
Here.  In  front  of  me ! 
GEORGETTE    (to  A.lain;  as  they  approach) :  What's  the 

matter  with  him  ? 

ALAIN:  He's  swallowed  a  tiger! 

ARNOLPHE:     That's  enough!  no  muttering! 

While  I'm  talking  you  can  hold  your 

tongues — 

you'll  have  enough  to  answer  for, 
after  I've  done  with  you. 

133 


ACT    ONE 

ALAIN  :  Master,  what  is  it  ? 

GEORGETTE:  What  can  we  have  done? 
ARNOLPHE:     What  is  it? 

WTiat  have  you  done  ? 

Why,  I  ...  I  ...  I 

Oh,  I'm  so   distracted,  I  can  hardly 

speak ! 

Which  of  you  disobeyed  me, 

While  I've  been  away  ? 

Which  of  you?  Eh?  Or  both? 

Have  you  agreed  together  in  deceit? 
GEORGETTE:  Deceit?  Not  me! 
ALAIN  :  Nor  me ! 

ARNOLPHE:     A  man's  been  here! 

[The  two  give  a  quick  glance  at  each  other.} 

Ah!  I  saw!   I  saw! 

You  looked  at  one  another! 

Guilty! 

The  pair  of  you ! 

Oh,  you  damned  rascal! ! ! 

Oh,  you  wicked  slut! ! ! ! 

I'll  skin  you  both  alive! 

Which  of  you  let  him  in?? 

Which  was  it?  You??  or  you??? 

[They  remain  silent.  .  .  .  He  goes  up  to  Georgette} 

You,  Georgette  ?  Was  it  you  ?  ? 

I'll  get  it  out  of  you ! 

What!  Have  you  lost  your  voice?? 

[He  loses  all  control.} 

Say  something,  woman! 
134 


THE    SCHOOL    FOR    WIVES 

Say  something! 
or  I'll  wring  your  neck ! 

GEORGETTE  (utterly  terrified;  and  collapsing  into  a  seat) : 
I  think  I'm  going  to  faint! 

\Arnolphe  turns  in  his  mad  fury  upon  Alain.] 

ARNOLPHE:     Well!  You? 

ALAIN  (collapsing  on  to  a  seat  too)'.  I've  come 

over  queer! 

AKNOLPHE  (suddenly  clutching  at  his  throat  and  col 
lapsing  on  to  a  seat) :  And  I  can't  get  my 
breath. 

[For  a  moment  they  are  all  three  collapsed. 
'Then  A.rnolphe  leaps  up^  forgetting  the  servants .] 

I  knew  him  in  his  cradle ! 
Then,  as  a  schoolboy ! ! 

Now,  a  man 

who's    stolen   from   me   everything   I 

have  I 

Has  he  ?  ...  or  hasn't  he  ? 

I  shall  go  mad  unless  I  know  what 

happened. 

Go  and  tell  Agnes  to  come  down  to  me. 

No!   Don't! 

You'd  give  her  warning — and  I'll  have 

none  o*  that! 

I'll  go  myself. 

And  take  her  by  surprise. 

The  truth! 

I'll  have  the  truth. 

Oh,  how  I  dread  to  hear  it! 

\Calling  upstairs  as  he  goes.] 

135 


ACT    ONE 


Agnes,  are  you  there?? 
[And  he  disappears.} 

GEORGETTE:  Well II  What  a  to-do!! 
ALAIN  :  It's  that  young  feller  1 

He's  the  trouble — and  I  said  he  would 

be! 
GEORGETTE:  But  what's  the  fuss  about?? 

Why  does  he  want  to  keep  the  girl 

shut  up  ? 

This  house  is  like  a  cagel 

That's  what  it  is, 

a  kind  of  human  cage, 

as  if  she  was  some  kind  of  animal. 

And  yet,  she's  not  for  show  I 

Why  does  he  get  the  Jumps-and-Jitters 

if  anyone  comes  near  ? 
ALAIN:  Because  he's  jealous. 

GEORGETTE:  What's  he  jealous  for? 
ALAIN:  Because  he's  jealous — that's  the  way  he 

is! 

GEORGETTE  :  But  why  ?  ? 

ALAIN:  It's  Jealousy,  good  woman,  gives  the 

Jumps-and-Jitters. 

Stops  you  enjoyin'  life! 
GEORGETTE:  It  don't  make  sense  to  me! 
ALAIN  :  Put  it  like  this : 

if  you  was  hungry,  with  a  plate  o'  soup; 

and  someone  comes  along,  as  hungry  as 
you, 

and  puts  his  spoon  in 

wouldn't  you  be  cross  ? 
GEORGETTE:  Of  course  I  should. 
ALAIN:  Well,  there  you  are! 

A  wife's  a  plate  o'  soup. 

136 


THE    SCHOOL    FOR    WIVES 

And  who  wants  another  feller 

dippin'  'is  fingers  in  ? 

GEORGETTE:   Some  men  don't  seem  to  mind. 
ALAIN  :  It  isn't  everyone's  as  greedy  as  a  pig 

wantin'  'is  dish  entirely  to  'imself, 

allowin'  nobody  even  a  sniff  of  it. 
GEORGETTE:  He's  coming  back. 
ARNOLPHE      (re-appearin<j£)\  Make  yourselves  scarce! 

Clear  out ! ! 

\The  servants  go. 

Arnolphe  watches  them  go;    then  looks  upstairs;    and 

waits  impatiently  I\ 

A  Greek  Philosopher 

(I  forget  his  name) 

once  gave  a  Roman  Emperor 

(Augustus  Caesar  I  believe  it  was) 

some  very  sound  advice! 

Whenever  anything  occurred  to  put  him 

in  a  rage, 

just  to  repeat  the  Alphabet 

to  give  hitn  time  to  cool, 

and  not  do  anything  he  might  be  sorry 

for! 

That's  what  I've  done  now 

I've  said  the  Alphabet  five  times ! 
I'm  not  quite  cool! 
But  I  was  cool  enough  to  tell  Agnes 
to  come  down  here  and  have  a  talk  with 

me. 

A  most  unusual  talk  I 
It  won't  be  easy — learning  the  truth 

from  her; 
without  her  learning  what  I'm  trying  to 

learn! 

137 


ACT    ONE 

Oh!  Here  she  is! 

God  grant  my  worst  suspicions  may  be 
laid  to  rest! 

For  if  they're  not 

Then,  that's  the  end  of  me 

I  shall  be  laid  to  rest ! 

[Agnes  appears.'] 

Ah,  there  you  are,  my  dear. 
Sit  down  .  .  .  and  I'll  sit  here. 

[A  pause.] 

What  a  fine  day  it  is ! 
AGNES:  Yes.  Very  fine. 

ARNOLPHE:     Yes.  .  .  .  Any  news? 
AGNES  :  News  ? 

ARNOLPHE:    Anything   happened   while   I've   been 

away? 

AGNES  :  What  should  have  happened  ? 

ARNOLPHE  :     Er  .  .  .  yes  .  .  .  what  indeed  ? 
AGNES  :  My  kitten  died. 

ARNOLPHE:     Oh  dear,  that's  very  sad. 

But  cats  are  mortal,  like  the  rest  of  us. 
AGNES  :  Yes,  but  it  was  a  kitten,  not  a  cat. 

ARNOLPHE  :     You  must  have  another. 
AGNES  :  No.  Not  yet.  I'd  like  a  dog. 

ARNOLPHE:     Then  you  shall  have  a  dog, 
AGNES  :  A  little  dog. 

ARNOLPHE:    A  little  dog. 

[A  pause. 

Amolphe  in  his  embarrassment  wipes  his  brow.} 

How  hot  it  is. 
138 


THE    SCHOOL    FOR    WIVES 

AGNES  :  Yes.   Very  hot. 

ARNOLPHE  :  Hasn't  It  rained  at  all  ? 

AGNES  :  On  and  off. 

ARNOLPHE:  You've  not  been  out? 

AGNES  :  Oh  no. 

ARNOLPHE  :  You've  stayed  indoors  ? 

AGNES  :  Of  course.   You  told  me  to. 

ARNOLPHE  :  You've  not  been  dull  ? 

AGNES  (with  enthusiast?;} :  Oh  no\  I've  not  been 

dull. 

ARNOLPHE  (in  dismay):  You  haven't? 

AGNES  No. 

ARNOLPHE  (with  a  groan) :  I'm  glad  to  hear  it. 

What  have  you  found  to  do  ? 

AGNES:  Six  night  shirts. 

[Arnolphe  tries  a  new  tack.} 

ARNOLPHE:     Agnes,   my  child — the  world  is  very 

strange. 
AGNES:  Oh  yes,  it  is. 

ARNOLPHE      (suspicious]  \  You  think  so 

AGNES:  If  you  say  it  is. 

ARNOLPHE:     Oh  yes — of  course  .  .  . 

People  talk  scandal. 

AGNES:  Scandal?  .  .  .  What's  that? 

ARNOLPHE  :     What  people  talk. 
AGNES:  I  like  to  hear  them. 

ARNOLPHE  :     I  hope  you  don't  like  scandal  ? 
AGNES  :  I  don't  know  what  it  is. 

ARNOLPHE  :     I'll  tell  you. 

It's  very  simple. 

For  instance, 

a  neighbour  told  me  that,  while  I  was 
away, 

a  young  man  came  to  see  you; 

here;  in  this  house. 


ACT    ONE 

And  you  received  him. 

That's  scandal! 

You  see  what  stupid  make-believe  it  is ! 

[She  is  looking  at  him,  wide-eyed^  but  doesn't  say  anything. 
Under  her  ga%e  be  adds:] 

(with  an  uneasy  little  laugh}  I  laid  a  wager 

with  him 

that  it  wasn't  true. 
AGNES  :  Oh,  heavens,  don't  do  that ! 

You'd  lose  your  money!! 
ARNOLPHE  :     You  mean  there  was  a  man,  here,  in  the 

house  ? 
AGNES  (pith  a  delighted  giggle)\  He  was  scarcely 

ever  out  of  it ! 
ARNOLPHE      (leaping    to    his  feef):  God    give    me 

patience ! 

AGNES  :  You're  not  angry  ? 

ARNOLPHE:     No.  No.   Not  angry — not  yet!    Taken 

aback. 
(to  himself} 
Oh,  surely,  such  frankness  must  mean 

innocence. 

AGNES  :  I  didn't  hear. 

ARNOLPHE  :    You  weren't  intended  to  ... 
If  I  remember  right  .  .  . 
I  forbade  you,  definitely,  to  see  anyone. 

AGNES  :  You  don't  know  why  he  came 

ARNOLPHE  :    No — but  I  can  guess. 
AGNES  :  Oh,  no,  you  never  could. 

ARNOLPHE  :     Tell  me  what  happened. 
AGNES  :  From  the  beginning  ? 

ARNOLPHE:    Yes,  from  the  beginning. 

AGNES  :  Well — I  was  out  on  my  balcony 

ARNOLPHE  :    What  were  you  doing  there  ? 

140 


THE    SCHOOL    FOR    WIVES 


AGNES:  Sewing  .  .  .  and  a  young  man  came  by. 

ARNOLPHE:     Below  you  in  the  street? 
AGNES:  Oh,  such  a  handsome  fine  young  man 

he  was ! 

ARNOLPHE  :     What  then  ? 

AGNES:  I  dropt  my  sewing, 

and  jumped  up  to  have  a  better  look. 

[Arnolphe  groans.] 

And  when  he  saw  I'd  noticed  him 

he  raised  his  hat;  and  bowed. 

Not  wishing  to  be  less  polite,  I  did  the 

same 

at  least,  I  raised  my  skirt,  and  curtseyed. 

ARNOLPHE:     Oh,  you  did! 

AGNES:  Of  course. 

The   Nuns   taught   me   always   to   be 

polite. 
And  then  he  bowed  again, 

again  I  curtseyed 

(with  a  little  squeal  of  delight] 
And  a  third  time  he  bowed, 

so  graceful^  and  so  low 

his  hat  was  in  the  mud. 

ARNOLPHE:     The  young  coxcomb ! 

AGNES:  Is  that  what  he  was?    Coxcombs  are 

very  nice  I 

ARNOLPHE:     And  after  the  bowing? 

AGNES  :  Then  he  went  away. 

ARNOLPHE  :     Away  ? 

AGNES:  Only  to  come  back;    and  wave;    and 

kiss  his  hand. 

ARNOLPHE  :     Oh ! ! ! 

AGNES:  No  need  to  worry;  I  was  not  outdone. 

I  did  the  same.  And  more • 

and  if  the  Evening  hadn't  come, 

141 


ACT    ONE 

and  Darkness  hidden  him, 

we'd  have  been  at  it  still. 
ARNOLPHE  :     At  what  ?  ? 
AGNES:  Throwing  kisses. 

ARNOLPHE:     And  that  was  all? 
AGNES  :  That  was  all  for  then ! 

ARNOLPHE  :     What  next  ?  ? 
AGNES  :  Next  day  ? 

ARNOLPHE:     Yes,  the  next  day? 
AGNES  :  Even  more  wonderful ! 

[She  stops — smiling  blissfully  at  the  recollection.} 

ARNOLPHE:     Go  on,  go  on! 

AGNES:  You  are  impatient  1    Do  you  like  my 

story? 
ARNOLPHE:     Yes,  but  get  on  with  it. 

AGNES  :  Well ! — I  was  standing  by  that  door 

(she  indicates  the  front  door) 

and  it  was  open 

I  wasn't  in  the  street;  indeed  I  wasn't — 

not  with  either  foot! 

But  as  I  stood  there,  just  inside  the 

room, 
a  strange  old  woman  came  along  the 

road, 
and  when   she  reached  me,   stopped; 

and  spoke  to  me. 
ARNOLPHE:     What  did  she  say? 
AGNES:  "  The  good  God  bless  you,  dear,"  she 

said, 

"  Long  may  your  beauty  last." 
(She  adds,  with  rapturous  smile] 
She  called  me  beautiful ! 
ARNOLPHE:     And  so  you  are — to  me; 
that's  all  that  matters. 


142 


THE    SCHOOL    FOR    WIVES 


AGNES:  Oh  no,  I  was  to  him — he  told  me  so. 

ARNOLPHE  :     You  shouldn't  have  listened. 

AGNES:  Not  listen!    When  he  said  such  lovely 

things! 

Nor  to  you  either  ? 
ARNOLPHE  :     Of  course,  listen  to  me ! 
AGNES  :  But  if  I'm  beautiful  to  you, 

why  not  to  him  ?  .  .  . 
Won't  you  explain? 
ARNOLPHE:     No.     Not   now.  .  .  .  On    with   your 

story. 
AGNES  :  Where  was  I  ?  .  .  . 

Oh  yes,  of  course 

I  haven't  finished  what  the  woman  said. 
"  Your  beauty  wasn't  given  you/'  she 

said, 

"  to  make  ill  use  of  it." 
And  then  she  told  me  I'd  been  very 

cruel; 
and  I'd  wounded  one  who'd  never  done 

me  harm. 

ARNOLPHE  :     Oh,  what  wickedness ! 
AGNES  :  But  what  had  I  done  ? 

I  asked  her  what  I'd  done. 

I'd  done  great  harm,  she  said,  to  that 

young  man. 
ARNOLPHE:     Ah! 
AGNES  :  Yes — him  \ 

"  That       innocent,       well-intentioned 

gentleman,"  she  said, 
"  I'd  smiled  at  from  my  balcony." 
Oh,  I  was  near  distraught! 
Had  I  dropt  something  on  him,  with 
out  knowing  it! 

And  what  do  you  think  she  said 

it  was  my  eyes ! ! 


ACT    ONE 

A    glance   from   them   had   dealt   the 

fatal  blow! 

— that's  what  she  said. 
My  eyes  had,  deep  within  them, 
a   fearful   power   to   pierce   another's 

heart 

and  the  young  man  was  dying ! 
ARNOLPHE  :     Dying ! ! 
AGNES:  Yes,  Dying.  Think  of  that! 

I  said  I  couldn't  bear  it  if  he  died. 
She  said  I  needn't  worry ! 

His  life  was  in  my  hands 

You  can  imagine  what  I  said. 
ARNOLPHE:     No,  I  can't. 
AGNES:  Well — you  know  I  can't  endure  to  see 

things  suffer. 
No  matter  what ! 
When  I  think  of  my  poor  kitten,  I  still 

cry. 
I  can't  even  bear  to  see  a  chicken  killed. 

And  this  young  man 

this  beautiful  young  man 

I  asked  what  I  could  do 

and  it  was  all  so  simple. 

All  that  he  wanted  was  to  come  and  see 

me, 
to  hold  my  hand;    and  look  into  my 

eyes 

for  only  they  could  heal  the  wound 

they'd  dealt. 
Oh,  I  was  so  relieved! 
I  said  he  was  to  come  as  quickly  as  he 

could! 
And  I'd  do  everything  I  could  to  make 

him  well. 
ARNOLPHE:     What  did  you  do  ? 

144 


THE    SCHOOL    FOR    WIVES 


AGNES  :  Why,  everything  he  asked. 

ARNOLPHE  :     What  did  he  ask  ? 

[She  gives  a  little  trill  of  a  laugh^ 

AGNES  :            Oh,  the  strangest  things !   You'd  never 
guess 

you'd  never  think  of  them. 

You'd  laugh! 
ARNOLPHE  :     I  doubt  it ! ! ! 

Oh,  no  Modesty!    No  decent  holding 

back! 
AGNES:  What's  modesty?    And  why  should  I 

holdback? 
ARNOLPHE  :     Oh,  God  forgive  me — I've  brought  this 

on  myself! 
AGNES:  What's  the  matter,  sir? 

You  seem  put  out! 

Have  I  done  wrong,  behaving  as  I  did  ? 
ARNOLPHE:     Yes!! 
AGNES  :  Yes  ?  ? 

ARNOLPHE:     No. 
AGNES  :  No  ?  ?  ? 

ARNOLPHE:     I  don't  know  what  to  say  I 

I  don't  know  yet  what  happened.   Tell 

me. 

AGNES  :  I'm  trying  to. 

ARNOLPHE  :     You  were  alone  with  him  ? 
AGNES:  Yes.   Yes.  I  was 

ARNOLPHE:     What  did  he  do? 
AGNES  :  The  moment  that  he  saw  me, 

he  seemed  so  strong  and  well 

and  fit  for  anything. 
ARNOLPHE:     I'm  asking  what  he  did? 
AGNES:  I'll  tell  you  in  a  moment. 

But  if  you  knew  the  presents  that  he 
brought; 


ACT    ONE 

and  all  the  money  that  he  gave  Alain — 

and  Georgette,  too, 

you'd  be  as  fond  of  him  as  we  are. 
ARNOLPHE:     My  feelings  for  him  now  are  strong 

enough ! 

AGNES  :  Are  they  ?  I'm  so  glad ! ! 

ARNOLPHE:     Go  onl! 
AGNES  :  First,  he  swore  he  loved  me. 

Loved  me!  He'd  only  seen  me  once! 

But  he  swore  to  me 

no  other  girl  in  all  the  world 

had  ever  been  so  loved,  as  he  loved  me. 
ARNOLPHE  :     Ridiculous  I 
AGNES:  I  didn't  think  sol 

For  when  he  said  it, 

I  felt  the  strangest  things. 

A  kind  of  tingling 

starting  in  my  toes — up  to  my  finger 
tips 

all  thro'  and  thro'. 

I  think  I've  never  felt  such  happiness. 
ARNOLPHE:     Oh,  this  is  Misery! 

When  every  revelation  gives  her  plea 
sure,  and  me  pain! 

There's  nothing  for  it,  I  must  probe 
some  more. 

(He  makes  an  enormous  effort) 

My  dear  sweet  child  .  .  . 

besides  this  talk,  this  silly,  idle  talk, 

did  he  do  anything  ?  .  .  .  what  are  you 

smiling  at? 

AGNES:  The  things  he  did! 

ARNOLPHE      (In  desperation) : 

Now  for  it ! 

Now! 

Did  he  make  love  to  you  ? 

146 


THE    SCHOOL    FOR    WIVES 

AGNES  (pulled  bj  the  expression) : 

"  Make  love  "  ? 

ARNOLPHE:     Did  he  caress  and  kiss  you? 
AGNES  (with  enthusiasm') 

Oh  yes,  he  did. 

He  took  my  hand,  and  kissed  it. 

Then,  all  up  my  arm 

and  kissed  behind  my  neck 

I  thought  I  should  have  died! 

And  be  enjoyed  it  too. 

I  thought  he'd  never  stop. 

All  up  and  down  he  went. 

Time  after  time! 
ARNOLPHE      (in  a  strangled  voice] :  What  more  ? 

[She  looks  at  him:  then  drops  her  eyes.] 

AGNES  (in  a  whisper] :  No  1 

ARNOLPHE:  Heaven  be  merciful!  You  must  tell  the 

truth. 

AGNES:  I  can't. 

ARNOLPHE:  Why  not? 

AGNES  :  You  might  be  vexed  with  me. 

ARNOLPHE  (a  cry,  to  himself] :  Oh,  no ! 

AGNES:  Ohjesl  I  think  you  would. 

ARNOLPHE:  Let  me  know  the  worst. 

AGNES:  Promise  you  won't  be  cross. 

[He  doesn't  answer  .  .  .  she  goes  on] 


I  gave  him  .  .  .  or  at  least  he  took 

No.  You'd  be  angry. 
ARNOLPHE  :     I  can't  suffer  more ! 
AGNES  :  I  couldn't  help  it. 

I  didn't  want  to. 

I  felt  it  would  be  wrong,  unfair  to  you. 

147 


ACT    ONE 


There  was  just  nothing  I  could  do 
but  let  him  have  his  way ! 
ARNOLPHE      (only  just  able  to  speaK) : 
Listen,  my  child. 
Tell  me — in  your  own  words — what 

happened  ? 

What  was  it  that  he  took? 
AGNES  :  The  ribbon  from  my  hair. 

The  one  you  gave  me. 

Please,  don't  be  cross 

ARNOLPHE  :     He  did  nothing  more  ? 
AGNES  :  Was  there  more  to  do  ? 

I'd  have  done  anything\ 

He  pinned  it  on  his  coat, 

told  me  he'd  wear  it  always 

and  was  gone! 
ARNOLPHE:     What  an  escape! ! 

All  this,  my  dearest  child,  comes  from 

your  innocence. 
I'll  say  no  more  about  it ! 
We  can  forget  it. 
AGNES:  Forget! 

ARNOLPHE      (laughing,  with  the  might  off  his  mind;   he 

he  is  very  light-hearted) : 
This  naughty  fellow  sought  to  turn  your 

head, 

to  flatter  and  deceive — and  laugh  at  you. 
AGNES  :  Oh,  no !  it  wasn't  that. 

He  told  me  so,  at  least  a  score  of  times. 
ARNOLPHE:     And  you  believed  him! 
What  a  touching  faith! 
It's  worthy  of  an  angel. 
But  the  world  we  live  in  isn't  Heaven ! 
(And  then  he  becomes  pompous) 
Now,  pay  attention,  please. 
To  listen  to  a  Jackanapes  like  him 

148 


THE    SCHOOL    FOR    WIVES 

to  accept  his  presents 

let  him  kiss  you 

and,  worst  of  all 

to  like  it! 

This  tingling  in  the  toes,  you  speak  of— 
Is  a  Sin!! 

AGNES:  A  Sin?? 

ARNOLPHE:     A  Mortal  Sin! 
AGNES  :  How  can  it  be  ? 

ARNOLPHE:     Good  men  have  known  it  since  the 

world  began. 
AGNES  :  But  the  Nuns  told  me  Sin  was  ugly. 

This  was  beautiful. 
ARNOLPHE      (strongly) : 

An  Offence  to  Heaven. 

Death  to  the  body. 

Damnation  to  the  soul. 
AGNES  :  You  frighten  me ! ! 

I'll  never  kiss  again !  Not  anyone. 

Not  him.  Not  you. 
ARNOLPHE:     Oh  Lord,  I've  overdone  it! 

(He  switches  from  Old  Morality  to  Sweet 
Reasonableness) 

My  child,  you're  growing  up. 

You're  old  enough  to  know  .  .  .  the 
facts  of  life; 

— or  some  of  them 

It's  true,  that  kissing  and  caressing  and 
the  rest  of  it, 

can  be  a  source  of  pleasure 

some  people  find  it  so 

indeed  I  do  myself. 

But   such   things    must   be    done    re 
spectably. 

AGNES  :  What's  that  ? 

ARNOLPHE:     In  other  words, 

149 


ACT    ONE 


when  you  are  married,  there's  no  harm 

in  it. 

AGNES  :  Let  me  be  married  soon. 

ARNOLPHE  :     That's  why  I'm  here. 
AGNES  :  "When  shall  we  be  married  ? 

ARNOLPHE  :     Tomorrow ! 
AGNES  :  Tomorrow ! 

Oh,  I'm  so  happy! 

Oh,  you're  so  good  to  me! 

Fd  like  to  kiss  you.   May  I  ? 
ARNOLPHE      (deligbfed) :  But  of  course ! 
AGNES  :  It's  not  a  Sin. 

ARNOLPHE  .*      No. 

AGNES  :  I'm  not  married  yet. 

ARNOLPHE  :     Marriage  is  near  enough  to  make  a  kiss 
quite  safe. 

[She  gives  him  a  great  big  kissl\ 

AGNES:  Oh,  I'm  so  grateful! 

I  think  the  facts  of  life  are  wonderful ! 

\-And  she  Jeans  her  face  against  his  body>  adding:] 

He'll  be  grateful,  too. 
ARNOLPHE:     Eh?  ...  What  was  that?    What  did 

you  say? 

AGNES:  He'll  be  grateful  too. 

ARNOLPHE:     He?  Who? 
AGNES:  Him.  The  Coxcomb! 

ARNOLPHE:    What's  he  got  to  do  with  it. 

You're  going  to  marry  me ! 
AGNES  :  (a  sudden  waiT) : 

You!  Oh  no  \  Not  you ! 
ARNOLPHE:    But  this  is  wickedness ! 

This  time  there's  no  excuse ! 


150 


THE    SCHOOL    FOR    WIVES 

You  must  be  taught  a  lesson! 

Listen,  my  lady! 

You've  seen  the  last  of  him! 
AGNES:  Oh  no,  I  haven't! 

He's  coming  here  today! 
ARNOLPHE:     Is  he?  I'm  glad  to  hear  it! 

When  he  comes, 

you'll  open  the  door  to  him 

AGNES  :  Yes ! 

ARNOLPHE:     — and  slam  it  in  his  face! 
AGNES  :            He'd  only  stay  and  knock. 
ARNOLPHE:     Then  up  to  your  room — out  on  your 
balcony 

and  throw  stones  at  him! 

You'll  find  a  pile  of  loose  bricks 

under  the  window-sill. 

AGNES  :  Oh  no,  I  couldn't.  I  shouldn't  have  the 

heart. 

Besides,  I  want  to  see  him. 
ARNOLPHE      (raging  at  her) :  Up  to  your  room ! 
AGNES:  I  won't  throw  stones. 

ARNOLPHE:     You'll  do  just  what  you're  told. 

I'm  master  here. 

If  you  learn  nothing  else,  in  this  first 
lesson, 

at  least,  you  can  learn  that. 

[She  begins  to  cry.] 

And  don't  start  crying. 
[She  cries  more  bitterly.] 

Quiet,  d'ye  hear  me?  Quiet! 
[She  cries  louder.] 


ACT    ONE 

I  won't  have  you  miserable., 
if  I  have  to  thrash  you  for  it! 

[She  sets  up  a  howling  .  .  .  and  disappears  upstairs  in  a 
regular  crescendo  of  howls.  .  .  . 

He  sinks  into  a  seat,  covering  his  ears  with  his  hands. 

The  two  servants  put  their  heads  into  the  room>  to  see 
whafs  happening^ 


Curtain 


152 


ACT   TWO 

Scene:  Inside  the  house. 

Arnolphe  is  there;   with  Agnes,  who  is  sewing.   And  the 
two  servants^  Alain  and  Georgette. 

ARNOLPHE      (who  is  very,  very  pleased  with  himself,  and 

everything  else) : 

Well,  I  must  say! 

You've  followed  my  instructions,  all  of 

you, 

with  great  success. 
The  enemy's  defeated. 
A  very  bright  young  spark  has  been 

extinguished ! 

Between  the  four  of  us 

we've  put  him  out! ! 

Oh,  the  young  devil! 

That's  what  they  are — he  and  his  kind! 

Devils !   Disguised  as  fops ! 

I  know  'em  well! 

With  handsome  faces,  under  handsome 

hats; 
and  well-built  bodies,  under  well-cut 

clothes, 
But  in  their  coloured  shoes — the  cloven 

hoof! 

And  while  I  was  away 

one   of  'em  came   knocking   at   your 

door 

even  had  hold  of  you ! 

My  blood  runs  cold! 

But  you  escaped 

with  flying  colours  I 

I  saw  you  throw  that  brick  at  him  I 

Well  thrown! 

153 


ACT  TWO 


ALAIN  I 


GEORGETTE: 
ALAIN: 

GEORGETTE: 

ALAIN: 
ARNOLPHE: 
GEORGETTE 
ARNOLPHE: 


GEORGETTE 


You  hit  him  on  the  shoulder ! 

And  bruised  more  than  his  shoulder — 

I'm  quite  sure  of  thatl 

I've  never  seen  a  man  look  so  surprised ! 

One  glance  up  at  you! 

And  then  he  stooped  to  pick  up  what 

you'd  thrown 
and  thrown  at  tnm\ 
He  held  it  in  his  hand — 
and  stood  there,  gazing  at  it  ! 
I  laughed  out  loud. 
I  laughed  so  much  I  couldn't  see  the 

end! 
I  thought  he'd  hear  me,   so   I   came 

away. 

Well  done,  well  done,  my  dear  ! 
(He  turns  to  the  servants) 
And  now,  I  want  a  word  with  her 

alone 

So  off  you  go  ! 

You  can  trust  us,  Master. 

Your  word  is  law. 

We're     only     simple     folk — we     was 

deceived. 

That's  what  we  was — deceived. 
And  we  was  more  than  that.   Cheated, 

we  was. 
That's   what   we  was!     Ohs   we   was 

cheated. 

He  gave  us  both  a  Crown. 
Oh,  did  he? 
Mine  was  a  bad  'un! 
Well,  be  off  with  you. 
(To  Georgette) 

Go  and  prepare  the  supper  I  arranged. 
:  Aye,  that  I  will. 


154 


THE    SCHOOL    FOR    WIVES 

ARNOLPHE  :     My  best  friend's  coming. 

And  so  serve  it  well. 

GEORGETTE:  It  shall  be  served  as  if  you  were  a  King. 
ARNOLPHE:     And  so  I  am! 

This  household  is  my  Kingdom. 
GEORGETTE    (going)  i  God  save  us  all ! 
ARNOLPHE      (to  Alain} : 

You,  go  fetch  my  Notary. 

He  has  his  office  down  in  the  Square. 
ALAIN:  I  know  the  place. 

ARNOLPHE  :     I  want  him  here  as  quick  as  he  can  come. 
ALAIN  (g°Mg)  '•  m  have  him  here  quicker  than 

that! 

[Arnolphe  and  Agnes  are  left  alone. 

A.  slight  pause. 

Agnes.,  her  eyes  on  her  worky  continues  very  busily  to  sew.] 

ARNOLPHE:     Now,  my  dear!  .  .  . 

No  need  to  go  on  sewing. 
Put  it  aside,  and  pay  attention. 

[She  stops  sewing;  but  keeps  her  ejes  downcast^ 

Well,  let's  see  your  face! 
[She  raises  her  head.] 

That's  right  I 

You  can  hear  better,  when  you  look  at 

me! 

And  I  can  see  you're  listening ! 
Noa, 

[She  starts  to  sew  again.] 

Oh,  put  the  damned  stuff  away ! 
[He  takes  it  from  her.] 

155 


ACT    TWO 


Now- 


Where  was  I?    What  was  I  going  to 
say? 

Oh  yes! 

We're  to  be  married. 

I  wonder  if  you  realise  how  fortunate 

you  are! 

AGNES  :  Yes,  I  think  I  do. 

ARNOLPHE  :     "  Thinking's  "  not  enough. 

What  were  you  when  we  met? 

When  first  you  saw  me? 
AGNES:           I  was  six! 
ARNOLPHE:    A  child! 
AGNES:           Yes;   but  I  remember. 
ARNOLPHE  :     A  little  village  child 

living  in  poverty. 
AGNES  :  I  remember  that,  too. 

ARNOLPHE  :     What  are  you  now  ? 

Or  rather, 

what  will  you  be  tomorrow  ? 
AGNES:  Shall  I  be  any  different? 

ARNOLPHE  :     Of  course ! 

You'll  be  my  wife. 

A  rich  man's  wife ! 

From  Poverty  to  Wealth, 

from  Want  to  Plenty 

from  Over-work  to  Leisure, 

All  that  you  owe  to  me ! 
AGNES:  Oh  yes,  I  know. 

ARNOLPHE  :     Well — don't  forget  it. 

That's  all  I  want  to  say. 

Oh  no — there's  one  tiling  more! 

Some    men    there    are,    who    marry 
country  wives 

for  something  of  a  change 

after  a  mis-spent  youth! 

156 


THE    SCHOOL    FOR    WIVES 

Promiscuous  rioting  I 

Not  so  with  me. 

Oh,  it  could  have  been !  Make  no  mistake 
in  that\ 

Oh,  there  were  many  women,  ready  to 

oblige. 

AGNES  :  What  do  you  mean—"  oblige  "  ? 

ARNOLPHE:     Urn? — We'll  leave  that  till  tomorrow. 

Enough  to  say :  that  in  affairs  of  Love, 

I've  been  both  cautious,  and  economi 
cal. 

And  kept  myself  £otjou. 

And  that's  another  thing,  you'll  please 

remember. 

AGNES:  Oh  yes,  I  will — if  you  remind  me. 

ARNOLPHE  :     Remind  you ! ! 
AGNES:  I'll  do  my  best! 

But  I'm  not  clever, 

as  you  keep  on  telling  me, 

and  remembering  things  is  very  diffi 
cult. 

I  find  the  things  that  stay  there  in  my 
head, 

are  those  that  come  there  of  their  own 

accord! 

ARNOLPHE  :     What  kind  of  things  ? 
AGNES  :  Well,  there's  still  my  kitten 

and  the  Coxcomb ! 
ARNOLPHE  :     You  still  think  of  him  ? 
AGNES  (with  a  sudden  grin) : 

I'd  like  to  throw  another  stone  at  him. 
ARNOLPHE:     He's  out  of  sight. 

Put  him  right  out  of  mind. 
AGNES:  That's  another  thing: 

it's  just  as  hard  to  put  things  out, 

as  keep  'em  in ! 

157 


ACT   TWO 

Nothing  goes  in  or  out 

unless  I  want  it  to ! ! 
ARNOLPHE:    You  have  much  to  learn. 

I  wonder  if  you  realise 

the  seriousness  of  marriage  ? 
AGNESS  :         No.  I  don't  think  I  do. 
ARNOLPHE:    I'll  tell  you. 

A  man  who  marries, 

accepts  responsibility;  shoulders  a  duty. 

So  does  the  woman. 

It's  a  Partnership. 

Two  Halves — that  are  not  equal. 

Two  Duties — not  the  same. 

One  to  command;  the  other  to  obey. 

One  leads;  the  other  follows. 

You  find  that  everywhere. 

It's  not  confined  to  marriage. 

A  soldier  of  the  line  obeys  his  officer, 

A  servant  his  master, 

and  a  child  its  parent. 

Even  to  have  harmony  in  music, 

there  must  be  one  to  sing  the  second 
part! 

And  to  be  Soldier,  Servant,  Child,  or 
Second  Fiddle 

and  be  it  well, 

to  be  a  wife, 

the  very  source  of  perfect  harmony, 

by  never  saying,  doing,  thinking  any 
thing 

against  her  husband's  wishes— out  of 
rune 

that's  an  achievement. 

Something  to  be  proud  of! 

And  to  be  proud  of  one's  humility 

158 


THE    SCHOOL    FOR    WIVES 

why,  that's  a  virtue  every   Christian 
knows. 

It's  simple.  Isn't  it? 
AGNES:  Yes.   Very  simple. 

ARNOLPHE:     Easy  to  say!  Less  easy  to  perform  I 

Too  often  women  fail! 
AGNES  :            Fail  ? 
ARNOLPHE  :     They  disobey ! ! ! 

which  spells  Catastrophe! 

That's  not  unusual  either ! 

A  soldier  disobeys — the  battle's  lost! 

A  city's  secret  life  is  like  a  battle-field — 

casualties  everywhere. 

Paris  is  strewn  with  broken  marriages. 

You  understand  ? 
AGNES :  I  think  so. 

ARNOLPHE  :     You  must  do  your  best. 

Most  women  fail  thro*  lack  of  under 
standing. 

Oh  there  are  some  women, 

who,  knowing  what  they  do, 

flout  all  the  decencies. 

And  there  are  men,  young  and  hot- 
blooded, 

who  encourage  them. 

Together,  they'll  descend  to  anything ! 

Such  you'll  avoid,  as  you  would  the 
plague. 

You'll  be  my  other  half. 

When  you  do  wrong,  I9 II  be  the  one  to 
suffer. 

And  I'm  sensitive. 

Easily  hurt. 

And  when  I'm  hurt,  I'm  angry. 

And  when  I'm  angry 

Yotftt  be  the  one  to  suffer! 


ACT   TWO 


And,  behind  my  anger 
is  the  Wrath  of  God! 
My  dear,  you're  beautiful! 

[She  breaks  into  a  seraphic  smile,  which  he  notices^ 

And  like  to  hear  me  say  so. 

Be  good,  and  faithful — and  your  purity 

will  shine  out  of  your  face. 

Your  beauty  will  endure. 

But,  stain  my  honour 

and  your  soul  turns  black. 

That,  too,  will  be  reflected  in  your  face ! 

All  those  that  see  you  will  avert  their 
eyes. 

And  more  than  that 

you'll  be  the  Devil's  prey. 

And  when  you  die,  go  straight  to  Hell 

and  boil  in  oil  through  all  eternity. 

.  .  .  Did  the  Nuns  teach  you  to  read? 
AGNES  :           From  holy  books. 
ARNOLPHE  :     Then  try  your  hand  at  this 

a  kind  of  holy  book 

the  author's  anonymous 

AGNES  :  — a  funny  name 

ARNOLPHE  :     When  we're  married  you  must  learn  the 
words, 

and  say  them  to  me  daily, 

when  you  say  your  prayers. 

But  now,  read  them  out  loud. 
AGNES  (reading^  carefully): 

"  The  Secrets  "—I  like  them 

ARNOLPHE:     You  must  have  none  from  me. 
AGNES  :  None  ? 

ARNOLPHE  :     Certainly  not ! 
AGNES:  Oh! 

1 60 


THE    SCHOOL    FOR    WIVES 


ARNOLPHE:     Read  on. 

AGNES  :  "  Of  a  Happy  Marriage, 

or.  Some  Rules  for  Wives. 

Rule  One  .  .  . 

She  who  shares  a  bed  in  wedlock 

must  always  bear  in  mind 

he  who  lies  beside  her 

is  her  Only  man.  .  .  ." 

Well! !  1— I  should  think  so ! 

I've  never  seen  a  bed 

that's  big  enough  for  three! 

ARNOLPHE  :     Rule  Two ! ! 

AGNES:  "  A  wife  must  dress 

only  for  her  husband. 

Her  appearance  matters  nothing 

save  to  him." 

Oh,  but  you  said  if  I  was  naughty 

I'd  turn  black, 

and  all  who  saw  me 

would  avert  their  eyes, 
ARNOLPHE:     So  they  would; 

it  wouldn't  matter,  except  to  me;  and 

you 

Rule  Three. 
AGNES:  "  A  wife  must  never  use 

Paints,  Powders  or  Creams. 

A  Desire  to  be  especially  beautiful 

is  seldom,  if  ever,  inspired  by  a  hus 
band." 

Do  women  paint  their  faces  ?  ? 
ARNOLPHE:     You  have  no  need  for  that\ 
AGNES  :  No — but  I'd  like  to  try. 

ARNOLPHE:     Rule  Four. 
AGNES  :  "  Never  accept  a  present  from  a  man. 

Nothing  is  given  for  nothing." 
ARNOLPHE:    Note  that. 

.6  161 


ACT    TWO 


For  you  took  presents  from  him. 
AGNES  :           But  I  gave  nothing  back. 
ARNOLPHE:     You  let  him  kiss  you. 
AGNES  :           That  was  his  nicest  present. 
ARNOLPHE      (pointing  to  the  paper} :  Rule  Five.  .  .  . 
AGNES:  "  Concerning  Men  Visitors  " 

(She  perks  up}  Oh  1  Yes ! 

"  A  wife  shall  welcome  to  her  home, 

only  those  men 

who  come  to  see  her  husband. 

Those  wishing  to  see  her, 

shall  not  come  in." 

(At  which  she  shakes  her  head,  and  gives  a 

deep  sigh) 

ARNOLPHE:    Well?  What's  the  matter? 
AGNES  (from  her  depths') :  Marriage  is  serious ! 

ARNOLPHE      (very pleased):  Well    said.     Well    said. 

Rule  Six.  .  .  . 
AGNES  :  <c  A  wife  shall  have  no  parties, 

solely  of  women. 

For  women,  on  their  own, 

plot  to  deceive  their  husbands." 

(With  eager  hopefulness] 

Oh,  how  can  they  do  that? 
ARNOLPHE:     Pray  God  you  never  know 

Rule  Seven.  This  is  for  Sunday. 

Take  special  note  of  this. 

What  follows  now,  is  all  important  to 
you. 

\What  actually  follows  is  a  sudden  tremendous  knocking 
on  the  front  door.] 


AGNES: 

ARNOLPHE: 
AGNES: 


What's  that? 
Who  can  that  be? 
Shall  I  open  the  door  ? 

162 


THE    SCHOOL    FOR    WIVES 


ARNOLPHE  :     Look  from  the  window. 
AGNES  (running  to  if) :  My  Coxcomb ! 

ARNOLPHE  :     Your  Coxcomb  ?  ? 

AGNES  :  My  target ! 

ARNOLPHE:     Target? 

AGNES:  The  one  I  throw  the  stones  at! 

(She  rushes  towards  the  door} 
ARNOLPHE:     Away  from  that  door! 

Up  to  your  room. 

[She  rushes  tips  fairs.  He  jells  J\ 

Akin!   Alain! 

GEORGETTE    (appearing):  He's  gone  for  the  Notary. 
ARNOLPHE:     He's  here. 
GEORGETTE:  Who's  here? 
ARNOLPHE:     The  Enemy. 
GEORGETTE:  He's  not! 
ARNOLPHE:     He  is. 
GEORGETTE  :  What  shall  I  do  ? 
ARNOLPHE:     Nothing. 

(More  knocking) 

I'm  going  thro'  the  kitchen 

into  the  street, 

to  head  him  off. 

Don't  let  him  in. 

[He  rushes  out.  Another  hurricane  of  knocking  on  the  door. 
The  Lights  fade.  Music,  which  continues  until  the  Lights 
come  up  again.  In  the  street.  Horace  is  knocking  very 
vigorously  on  the  door.  Arnolphe  enters  fro??i  the  opposite 
side.\ 

ARNOLPHE:    Horace! 

HORACE          (swinging  round):  Seigneur  Arnolphe !! 
ARNOLPHE      (advancing  towards  him} : 
Can  I  believe  my  eyes  ? 


ACT  TWO 


HORACE: 
ARNOLPHE : 


HORACE: 
ARNOLPHE : 

HORACE: 
ARNOLPHE : 
HORACE: 
ARNOLPHE : 
HORACE: 

ARNOLPHE : 
HORACE: 

ARNOLPHE: 

HORACE: 
ARNOLPHE : 
HORACE: 
ARNOLPHE: 
HORACE : 
ARNOLPHE: 


HORACE: 

ARNOLPHE: 

HORACE: 


You  here  again! 

Dear  boy,  I'm  pleased  to  see  you! 

What  are  you  doing  here  ?  ? 

What  are  jw  doing  here  ? 

Me?  Here? 

Oh,   I   have  a   Notary   down  in   the 

Square. 

I've  been  to  see  him. 
On  my  way  here,  passing  this  street, 
I  recognised  your  back. 
My  back? 

Yes,  I  was  glad  to  see  it. 
I  always  shall  be. 
And  are  you  well  ? 
Yes.  Very  well. 
You're  quite  recovered  ? 
Recovered  ?  ? 
Last  time  I  saw  you 
you  were  very  poorly. 
Poorly? 

I  left  you  here,  in  pain, 
there,  on  the  seat. 
Oh  Ah,  so  you  did! 
I  had  the  cramps. 
The  wind,  I  think,  the  wind. 
A  touch  of  both. 
But  it  has  passed  ? 
Never  in  better  health. 
Nor  spirits,  so  it  seems. 
Yes.  All  goes  very  well. 
And  with  you  too,  I  hope! 
Tell  me  about  yourself. 
I'd  rather  not. 
What's  this  ? 

Last  time  I  saw  you  I  fear  I  talked  too 
much. 


164 


THE    SCHOOL    FOR    WIVES 

ARNOLPHE  :     Not  a  bit  of  it. 

You  didn't  talk  enough. 

Last  time  I  saw  you, 

I  let  you  go 

before  you'd  told  me  all  there  was  to 
tell. 

Very  unfriendly  of  me ! 

And  not  the  way  to  treat  your  father's 
son. 

And  now  you  say  something's  gone 

wrong 

HORACE:        Did  I? 
ARNOLPHE  :     Did  you  what  ? 

HORACE:         Say  something  had  gone  wrong 

ARNOLPHE:     Yes. 

HORACE:        I  never  said  a  word! 

ARNOLPHE  :     But  hasn't  it  ? 

HORACE:         How  did  you  know? 
ARNOLPHE  :     I  saw  it  in  your  eye. 
HORACE:        My  God,  what  understanding! 
ARNOLPHE  :     Tell  me  everything ! 

I  may  be  able  to  help. 
HORACE:        I'm  very  touched! 
ARNOLPHE  :     Don't  mention  it ! 
HORACE:        You're  very  right!    Things  have  gone 
wrong. 

The  fool's  come  back. 
ARNOLPHE:     What  fool? 
HORACE  :         Her  guardian. 
ARNOLPHE  :     Oh  him  \ 
HORACE          (with   great    vehemence)-.  THE    DEVIL 

TAKE  HIM! 
ARNOLPHE:     Careful!   Careful  I 

Don't  invoke  the  devil. 

When  once  be  gets  a  finger  in  the  pie, 


ACT    TWO 

you  never  know  what  he'll  be  up  to 

next. 

HORACE:        That's  very  true  I 
ARNOLPHE:     Women  are  bad  enough  without  the 

devil. 

HORACE  :         That's  true  again.  Oh,  you're  very  wise ! 
ARNOLPHE:     You  think  so? 
HORACE:        I  do  indeed. 
ARNOLPHE:     Then,  tell  me  about  La  Souche. 
HORACE:        Oh,  I  can  scarcely  speak  of  him!   And 

not  run  mad. 

Misguided,   besotted,  lecherous,   half- 
mad. 

An  upright  corpse!! 
With  only  one  thing  in  him  that's  alive. 
His  insane  jealousy! 
ARNOLPHE:     A  charming  portrait! 
HORACE:        He's  there!! 
ARNOLPHE  :     Where?? 
HORACE:        Behind  that  door! 

Let's  break  the  damned  thing  down! 
And  take  him  by  the  throat, 
and  shake  him,  like  a  rat! 
ARNOLPHE:     Oh  no.    I  wouldn't  do  that  if  I  were 

you! 

HORACE  :        Why  not  ? 
ARNOLPHE:     We'll  find  some  other  way  to  deal  with 

him. 
We'll  get  the  better  of  him !  You  and  I, 

together. 
HORACE:        Oh,  Seigneur  Arnolphe! 

To  think  that  two  such  men,  as  you  and 

he, 
should  stand  on  either  side  of  that  same 

door. 
It's  very  strange ! 

1 66 


THE    SCHOOL    FOR    WIVES 


ARNOLPHE  :  It's  stranger  than  you  think  ! 

HORACE:  The  old  fool  knows. 

ARNOLPHE:  Knows  what? 

HORACE  :  I've  been  to  see  her. 

ARNOLPHE  :  Don't  tell  me  that  !  I 

HORACE:  I  do. 

ARNOLPHE  :  I  can't  believe  it  ! 

How  did  he  find  out? 

HORACE  :  I  can't  imagine. 

ARNOLPHE  :  Did  the  girl  tell  him  ? 

HORACE  :  She's  not  as  naive  as  that. 

ARNOLPHE  :  He  might  have  wormed  it  out  of  her. 

HORACE:  Most  unlikely. 

Can  you  imagine  yourself  —  if  you  were 

worming  it  out  of  me  ? 
ARNOLPHE:     You'd  keep  it  to  yourself? 
HORACE:         Of  course  I  should. 
ARNOLPHE  :     Like  any  Frenchman!  ! 

How  do  you  know  he  knows  ? 
HORACE:        Oh,  there's  no  doubt. 

The  last  few  days,  how  I've  been  wel 
comed  here! 

And  now!  At  my  kst  visit, 

I  walked  up  to  the  door  and  knocked 
upon  it  - 

so  !  (He  does) 

\lmmediatelj  Georgettes  voice  streams  out  at  him  from 
the  other  side  of  //.] 

G.'s  VOICE:  Go  away,  you  scoundrel,  go  away  I 

HORACE:  There  -  !  You  hear?  His  voice! 

ARNOLPHE:  His!  Whose? 

HORACE:  Her  guardian's.  La  Souche. 

ARNOLPHE:  It  sounded  like  a  woman's. 


ACT    TWO 


HORACE: 
ARNOLPHE 

HORACE 
ARNOLPHE 

HORACE: 
ARNOLPHE : 
HORACE: 


ARNOLPHE : 
HORACE: 
ARNOLPHE : 
HORACE: 

ARNOLPHE 
HORACE : 


ARNOLPHE 

HORACE: 
ARNOLPHE: 

HORACE: 
ARNOLPHE  : 

HORACE: 


So  does  his ! 

A  silly  piping  squeak  of  impotence. 

(indignant \  in  spite  of  himself]: 

Look  here,  young  man 

{going  straight  on) : 

The  door  was  slammed,  right  in  my 

face, 

and  insults  shouted  thro'  it! 
(with  hardly-concealed  glee): 
What  kind  of  insults? 
I  can't  remember. 
Try. 

It's  of  no  consequence. 
And  as  I  stood  there,  dumbfounded, 

utterly, 

I  heard  a  voice — above  me. 
Hers? 

Up  on  her  balcony. 
And  shouting  insults  too  ? 
Yes.   Yes,  she  was. 
(almost  choking  with  delight) :   Poor  lad ! 
Worse  was  to  come ! 
What   happened    then,    you'll    never, 

never  guess, 
not  in  a  hundred  years, 
it's  past  belief ! 
What  do  you  think? 
(being  mischievous) :   She  threw  a  stone  at 

you. 
Good  God!   You've  second  sight! 

It's  what  I  should  expect! 

Her  outraged  innocence. 
There's  been  no  outrage — yet! 

This  stone  she  threw  at  you 

was  it  a  big  one  ? 
Very. 

168 


THE    SCHOOL    FOR    WIVES 

ARNOLPHE  :     And  hit  you  ? 

HORACE:        Yes. 

ARNOLPHE:     And  hurt? 

HORACE  :         Considerably. 

ARNOLPHE:     That's  good;  that's  bad,  I  mean! 

HORACE  :        The  next  time  I  see  her, 

she  shall  pay  for  it — with  all  she  has. 
ARNOLPHE:     Horace!   You  must  be  brave! 
You  must  prepare  yourself! 
Next  time  will  never  come. 
From  what  you've  told  me,  you've  no 

chance  at  all. 

HORACE  :         There  is  a  gleam  of  hope ! 
ARNOLPHE      (suspicious)'.  What  gleam1? 
HORACE:         I  haven't  finished  yet! 
ARNOLPHE      (shaken) :  Not  finished  ? 
HORACE:        No.   There's  more  to  come! 

Well ! — Can't  you  guess  ? 

ARNOLPHE      (frightened) :  God  help  me!  No,  I  can't! 
HORACE  :         I'm  not  surprised. 

What  followed  then,  would  baffle  even 
you! 

You  know  the  stone  she  threw 

it  hit  me  on  the  shoulder; 

fell  at  my  feet;  I  stooped  to  pick  it  up  ; 

I  held  it  in  my  hand 

ARNOLPHE      (impatiently]-.  I  know,  I  know! 
HORACE          (surprised) :  You  know?? 
ARNOLPHE      (passing  it  off):  Well,  you're  telling  me! 
HORACE          (repeating):   I  held  it  in  my  hand.  .  .  . 

Then ! — Can  you  imagine  ? 

ARNOLPHE      (on  tenterhooks) :  No,  I  can't  .  Go  on. 
HORACE  :         On  the  bottom  side,  where  it  was  flat, 

tied  neatly  on  with  string — a  letter! 
ARNOLPHE      (a  cry)\  Ah! 
HORACE  :        Dear  sir,  what  is  it  ? 

169 


ACT    TWO 

ARNOLPHE  :     I've  got  the  cramps  again ! 
HORACE:        How  very  strange! 

There  must  be  something,  here,  about 
the  place, 

that  doesn't  suit  you. 

Have  you  the  wind  as  well? 
ARNOLPHE:     I  may  have  any  moment. 

What  of  the  letter? 
HORACE  :         I  have  it  here. 
ARNOLPHE:     Then  read  it  to  me!  Read  it! 
HORACE          (as  he  unfolds  if) : 

Completely  ignorant! 

She  may  have  been — indeed,  I  think  she 
was 

but,  oh,  how  swiftly  Love  can  teach! 

And,  in  a  moment,  how  we  can  be 
changed! 

In  one  revealing  flash, 

abysmal  ignorance  knows  all  there  is  to 

know! 

ARNOLPHE  :     Read  me  the '  letter ! 
HORACE  :         Yes,  indeed  I  will. 

(He  looks  at  //.) 

A   childish   scrawling   hand — -and    she 
writes  this : 

(he  makes  as  if  to  read^  but  goes  on  talk- 
ing) 

Oh,  but  the  Little  God  works  miracles ! 

Under  his  touch 

the  miser  spends  his  money; 

a  coward  may  be  brave; 

a    man    without    manners     becomes 
courteous ; 

a  mental  clodhopper  becomes  a  wit! 

The  blind  can  see. 

The  lame  can  walk. 


170 


THE    SCHOOL    FOR    WIVES 

The  foolish  understand! 
ARNOLPHE:  Yes,  yes,  yes — the  letter! 
HORACE:  Yes.  The  letter.  .  .  .  She  writes: 

(but  again  he  breaks  off] 

Oh,  I  can  see  her  now 

ARNOLPHE  :    Where  ?  ?  ? 

HORACE:        As  she  was  then — up  on  her  balcony. 

Her  arm  raised  high; 

her  little  hand  clutching  the  great  big 
stone 

and  she  leaned  over  to  me 

and  she  shouted 

"  I've  thought  of  all  you  had  to  say," 
she  screamed, 

"  considered        every       word — AND 
HERE'S  MY  ANSWER!" 

And  she  flung  it  at  me ! 

Doesn't  that  show  resource! 

A  very  pretty  cunning! 

Aren't  I  a  lucky  fellow  ?  ? 

Don't  you  admire  her  for  it 

and  doesn't  it  make  that  guardian  of 
hers 

look  ludicrous  ? 

ARNOLPHE      (to  himself):  Nothing  to  what  he  feels !!! 
HORACE:        He  shuts  the  girl  up  like  a  prisoner! 

And  tells  his  servants  not  to  let  me  in! 

It's  true  his  coming  back  has  compli 
cated  things, 

for  the  time  being. 

I  wouldn't  have  it  otherwise. 

It's  brought  the  girl  to  life. 

And  there  he  is!    Behind   this   very 
door 

as  close  to  me,  as  I  am,  now,  to  you! 

D'you  think  he's  listening? 

17* 


ACT    TWO 


ARNOLPHE:     I  shouldn't  be  surprised. 
HORACE:        It's  funny,  isn't  it?  (He  laughs) 
ARNOLPHE:     Yes.  Very  very  funny. 

\_Arnolphe  tries  to  laugh  too;    but  it  ends  in  a  kind  of 
hiccough.] 

HORACE  :         The'  wind  ?  ? 
ARNOLPHE:     The  letter! 
HORACE:        Yes.  The  letter! 

It's  very  touching,  and  ingenuous ! 

It's  brave;   and  it's  bewildered. 

A  little  cry  of  pleasure,  and  of  pain 

Cupid's  first  dart  draws  blood ! 
ARNOLPHE:     Give  it  to  me?  I'll  read  it  for  myself! 
HORACE  :        Til  read  it !    She  begins : 

(reading) 

"  My  own  dear  Coxcomb  " 

Now,  that's  beyond  me! 

Why  should  she  call  me  that? 
ARNOLPHE:    I  can't  imagine! 
HORACE:        She  goes  on: 

(be  continues  reading) 

66 1  want  to  write  to  you  and  tell  you 

all  my  thoughts;  but  I  don't  know 

how  to  say  them.  I  mistrust  even  my 

own  words." 

It's  pathetic!  Listen  to  this : 

"  I  know  now  that  I  have  been  brought 
up 

to  know  nothing." 

And  she  goes  on: 

"  I  am  afraid  I  might  write  something 
I  should  not." 

Then  she  writes : 

"  I  am  sad,  and  very  angry,  at  the  things 
I  am  made  to  do  against  you. 

172 


THE    SCHOOL    FOR    WIVES 

And  my  heart  aches  that  I  do  not  see 

you  any  more. 

Oh,  how  I  wish  that  I  was  yours." 
That's  what  she  says  I    She  wishes  she 

was  mine! 

"  I  hope  it  is  not  wicked  to  say  that. 
Everybody,  I  mean  my  Guardian  and 

the  Nuns, 
tell  me  young  men  are  deceivers;   and 

you 
should  never  listen  to  them;    and  all 

they 

want  to  do  is  to  betray  you. 
I  don't  know  what  that  means.    And 

anyhow 

I  don't  believe  it." 
Bless  her!   She  doesn't  believe  it! 
I  love  this  bit: 

"  Your  words  went  thro*  and  thro'  me, 
and  I  hear  them  still. 
So  how  can  they  be  false?   Please  tell 
me  if  they  are! 

Never  could  I  wish  any  harm  to  you. 
I  think  it  would  be  very  wrong  of  you  to 
wish  me  harm." 

Was  anything  so  simply  logical? 
And  she  ends  up: 

"  Come  again  soon.  Til  throw  another 
stone    at    you;     your    loving    loving 

Agnes." 

This  in  my  hand,  am  I  to  give  up  hope ! ! 
Not  on  your  life! 
But  I  must  ask  your  help! 
ARNOLPHE  :     Eh  ? 
HORACE:         Sk,  will  you  condescend  to  play  a  part 

in  this? 

175 


ACT    TWO 

ARNOLPHE:     I  mean  to  whether  I'm  asked  or  not! 

First  tell  me  this : 

What  d'you  mean  to  do  ? 
HORACE:         Let's  put  our  heads  together! 

I  half  expected  she'd  come  out  on  her 
balcony, 

and  throw  another  stone ! 

Why  do  you  think  she  doesn't  ? 
ARNOLPHE  :     Perhaps  because  of  me? 
HORACE:        What  difference  should  you  make? 
ARNOLPHE:     Young  women  don't,  as  a  rule, 

stand  on  their  balconies, 

and  throw  stones  at  men. 
HORACE:        That's  very  true! 

I'll  throw  a  stone  at  her! 
ARNOLPHE:    What  for? 

HORACE  :        Answer  her  letter !   Tell  her  I  love  her. 
ARNOLPHE:     No.  I  shouldn't  do  that. 
HORACE:        Why  not? 

ARNOLPHE:     It  might  attract  attention 

HORACE:        How? 

ARNOLPHE:     The  noise — La  Souche  might  hear! 

Remember  he's  very  close ! 
HORACE:        That's  true  again! 
ARNOLPHE:     One  thing  is  certain! 

Whatever  course  you  take, 

La  Souche  must  never  know. 

This  wants  thinking  over. 

Suppose  we  sleep  on  it. 
HORACE:        Sleep  on  it! 

ARNOLPHE:     Tomorrow  morning  I  shall  see  more 
clearly. 

I  shall  have  made  a  plan. 

Be  patient  till  tomorrow. 

HORACE:        Tomorrow!   That  seems  years  away. 
ARNOLPHE  :     But  a  few  hours  I 


THE    SCHOOL    FOR    WIVES 


HORACE : 

ARNOLPHE: 


HORACE : 
ARNOLPHE: 
HORACE : 
ARNOLPHE: 
HORACE : 
ARNOLPHE: 


HORACE: 
ARNOLPHE  : 


HORACE: 


ARNOLPHE : 


HORACE: 


Better  wait,  than  make  some  silly  move, 

that  might  be  fatal. 

I  suppose  that's  true. 

Of  course  it  is  ! 

If  you  want  my  help, 

wait  till  the  morning. 

I'm  in  your  hands  1 

Yes,  dear  boy,  you  are! 

Where  shall  we  meet? 

Come  to  my  house. 

Your  house  ? 

If  I'm  not  there  —  Fll  leave  a 

message  for  you. 

(He  begins  to  urge  Horace  of  the  stage) 

Don't  stay  here  now.     • 

Most  ill-advised. 

He  may  be  watching. 

You  think  so  ?  ? 

I  shouldn't  be  surprised!    . 

I  have  a  feeling  that  he's  got  his  eye  on 

you! 

Tomorrow  at  your  house. 
How  can  I  ever  thank  you  ? 
Don't  try! 
I'll  give  you  something  to  be  thankful 

for. 
I  take  my  leave.  .  .  . 


[He  goes. 

When  Horace  has  gone  Arnolphe^s  pent-up  feelings  find 

expression^ 

ARNOLPHE:    Oh,  anguish,  anguish,  anguish! 
Oh  that  letter!!! 
It'U  be  the  death  of  me!! 
Oh,  the  little  Vixen!!!! 


ACT    TWO 


I  can  see  her  now- 


sitting  there,  listening  to  me 

her  childlike,  smiling  eyes  I 

And  all  the  time 

the  knowledge  of  what  she'd  done  to 

me 

was  at  the  back  of  them. 
Oh  Women!! 

Young  or  old;   clever  or  silly; 
at  heart,  they're  all  the  same. 
They're  never  innocent. 
Either  wanting  intrigues;     or  having 

intrigues 

or  getting  out  of  'em ! ! 
Unfathomable  depths  of  Infamy!! 
And  this  one's  worse  than  most! 
She  makes  a  mock  of  all  I've  done  for 

her 

I'll  leave  her  to  her  fate ! 

He'll  take  her;    have  her;    and  have 

done  with  her! 

I'll  be  revenged 

she'll  bring  it  on  herself! 
What  can  I  ask  for  more  ?  ? 

[He  laughs,,  but  his  laugh  turns  to  a  groan.} 

That  way  I'd  lose  her! 

And  I  can't  do  that! 

I  can't.  I  can't.   I  can't. 

I  chose  her  for  myself. 

So  carefully!   So  many  years  ago! 

She'd  no  relations ;  not  a  single  friend, 

she'd  nothing! 

So  she'd  be  wholly  mine! 

I  petted  and  played  with  her, 

176 


THE    SCHOOL    FOR   WIVES 

watched  her  grow  up 

a  child — a  girl — a  woman! 
How  I've  looked  forward — 


Like  any  lovely  fruit,  I've  watched  her 
ripen: 

and  now  another  plucks  her  from  my 
tree. 

The  more  I  think  of  it,  the  more  I  burn 
with  rage. 

Rage,  I  could  bear — it  passes ! 

But  the  more  I'm  consumed  with  Anger, 

the  more  I'm  consumed  with  Love. 

Somehow,  she's  never  seemed  more 
beautiful. 

I'm  going  mad!!! 

She's  up  there  now.  Beyond  her  bal 
cony. 

I  could  call  out  to  her! 

What  could  I  call?? 

I'm  mad  already!  Stark,  staring  mad ! 

A  fool,  a  shameless  fool! 

I  could  beat  out  my  brains ! 

[He  starts  to  beat  his  head  with  his  hands.,  but  stops ] 

My  horns !   My  cuckold's  horns, 
[He  feels  his  headJ\ 

No.   They're  not  there. 

Not  yet.  I'm  sure  they're  not. 

Oh,    Merciful    Heaven!     Grant    they 

never  will  be! 
Or  if  they  are, 
give  me  the  strength  to  bear  them,  like 

my  fellow  men  I 

177 


ACT    TWO 

No!  I'll  not  ask  for  that! 

That's   surrender! — and  I'll   not  give 

in! 

What  am  I  thinking  of! 
I  hold  all  the  cards ! 

The  girl  belongs  to  me 

I'm  her  appointed  Guardian 

and,  obviously,  a  better  match  for  her, 

than  this  young  Ne'er-do-well ! 

For  her  own  sake, 

she  has  to  marry  me! 

I  have  to  keep  my  head  1 

That's  all  I  have  to  do. 

Instruct  my  servants  further, 

double-bolt  my  doors — that's  all ! 

and  that  1*11  do. 

[He  goes  to  bis  house;  and  at  the  door  turns  and  looks  in 
the  direction  Horace  has  gone.] 

Young  man,  I'm  sorry  for  you! 
Tomorrow  morning  it'll  be  too  late ! 


Curtain 


ACT   THREE 

Scene:  In  the  house. 

Arnolphe  is  haranguing  the  two  servants. 

ARNOLPHE:     Let  me  see!  ...  Where  was  I?  ... 
Oh  yes 

Ohnoi 

First,  tell  me  this : 

since  her  kitten  died, 

there's  been  no  cat  or  dog  about  the 

house  ? 

ALAIN:  No. 

GEORGETTE:  No,  there  hasn't. 

ARNOLPHE  :     Very  strange !  .  .  .  Just  now,  up  in  her 
room, 

while  I  was  talking  to  her, 

I  heard  a  noise. 

It  might  have  been  a  dog  under  the  bed. 

I  looked,  but  there  was  nothing. 

I  don't  know  what  it  was. 

Oh  well,  no  matter! 

Where  did  I  say  I  was  ?  .  .  .  Oh  yes : 

get  this  into  your  skulls,  thick  as  they 
are. 

A  threat  to  my  honour  is  a  threat  to 
you! 

If  he  outwits  you  and  gets  in  again, 

I've  done  with  you  1 

Into  the  street  you  go,  the  pair  of  you — 

and  starve! — I'll  see  to  that! 
ALAIN  (in  plaintive  protest} : 

Master,  you  can  trust  us. 
GEORGETTE:  We've  told  you  so. 
ALAIN:  We  keeps  on  tellin*  yer! 

ARNOLPHE      (zgnorittg  them) : 

You'd  be  a  laughing  stock! 


ACT    THREE 


ALAIN 

GEORGETTE: 
ALAIN  : 

ARNOLPHE: 

ALAIN: 
ARNOLPHE  I 


ALAIN 

ARNOLPHE: 

ALAIN 

ARNOLPHE: 


There's  not  a  servant  up  and  down  the 

street, 
or  round  the  Square, 

who  wouldn't  cock  a  snook  at  you 

the  Nincompoops  who  couldn't  guard 

a  home. 

(indignant  to  Georgette) : 
Did  you  hear  that? 
He  called  us  Nincompoops. 
I  tell  you.  Master — if  he  came  here 


now- 


Well,  what  if  he  did 

and  made  a  pretty  speech. 

A  pretty  speech!  to  me! 

just  waste  of  breath! 

Ah,  but  suppose  he  came  to  you  and 

said: 
(He  mimics  and  exaggerates  Horace's  voice 

and  manner) 
"  I'm  in  great  trouble!  I  beseech  your 

help! 

As  you  hope  for  mercy  at  the  Last, 
grant  me  one  tiny  boon." 
(looking  at  him  in  great  disgust) : 
Oh,  you're  an  idiot. 
What's  that??? 

(blandly) :  That's  what  I'd  say  to  him! 
Oh  yes — good,  good,  good! 
(He  turns  to  Georgette) 
Now,  he  might  say  to  you: — 
"  Georgette,  my  dear  one!    Oh,  my 

Beautiful." 
(Georgette  giggles) 

"  You  always  were  a  favourite  of  mine! 
So  good.   So  sympathetic? 
Such  a  heart  of  gold." 

180 


THE    SCHOOL    FOR    WIVES 

GEORGETTE    (ferociously) :  Oh,  shut  your  mouth ! ! ! 
ARNOLPHE  :     What  did  you  say  ?  ?  ? 
GEORGETTE  :  You're  him  I 
ARNOLPHE:     Oh  yes.   So  I  am! 

But  then  he'd  try  again,  even  more 
pitiable. 

"  Oh,  if  you  don't  have  mercy  on  me, 

I  shall  die!" 

GEORGETTE  :  Good  riddance ! 
ALAIN  :  I  know  of  two,  at  least, 

who'd  be  glad  to  see  you  go ! ! 
ARNOLPHE:     Um?   Yes!    That  sounds  convincing. 

But  he'd  not  stop  at  that. 

He'd  try  another  tack! 

"  I  know  the  world,"  he'd  say 

"  I'm  not  a  man  who  wants  something 
for  nothing. 

No  one  will  suffer  for  what  I  want  to 
do! 

Why  shouldn't  jou  benefit  ? 

Here's  money  for  you!  Gold! 

Here,  take  it.  Take  it." 

(They  both  do.) 
ALAIN  (suddenly  giving  Arnolphe  a  violent  push): 

Now,  get  out  of  it! 
ARNOLPHE      (taken  by  surprise):  Hey! 
GEORGETTE    (also  pushing  him  violently) :   Be  off! ! 
ALAIN  (another push):  Away  with  you! ! 

GEORGETTE     (another) :  Make  yourself  scarce, 
ARNOLPHE:     Hey!  That's  enough! 
ALAIN  (pleasantly):  That  sort  o'  thing? 

GEORGETTE  :   Something  like  that  ?  ? 
ARNOLPHE  :     (recovering  himself) : 

Not  bad.  Not  bad 

Except  the  money! 
ALAIN:  Money? 

181 


ACT    THREE 

GEORGETTE  i  What  money  ?  ? 

ARNOLPHE  :     I  gave  you  some. 

ALAIN:  Did  you? 

ARNOLPHE  :     You  put  it  in  your  pocket. 

ALAIN:  Did  I? 

ARNOLPHE:     You  shouldn't  have  taken  it. 

ALAIN  (in  mock  amazement]'.    Shouldn't  have 

taken  it! 

GEORGETTE  :  Would  you  believe  it  1 
ALAIN:  Let's  do  it  all  again. 

GEORGETTE:  Pushing  and  all! 
ARNOLPHE:     No  need,  no  need! 
ALAIN:  Try  the  bit  again  —  offering  money. 

GEORGETTE:  We    might    forget  —  and    take    it,    by 

mistake. 

ALAIN:  Force  o'  habit. 

ARNOLPHE      (giving  up) 

Keep  "what  I've  given  you! 

Less  reason  to  take  his  ! 

Well,  he's  a  cleverer  fellow  than  I  think 

if  he  gets  in  now. 

In  any  case,  we've  seen  the  last  of  him, 

at  least  until  tomorrow. 
GEORGETTE    (pointing  to  the  window)  :  Master  ! 
ARNOLPHE:     What  is  it? 
GEORGETTE:  Look. 


\.A.rnolphe  goes  to  the  w 


ARNOLPHE:     Oh,  God-in-Heaven,  there  he  is  again! 

ALAIN:  And  coming  here! 

GEORGETTE  :  No.  No,  he's  not. 

ALAIN  :  What's  he  up  to  ? 

GEORGETTE  :  What's  he  doing  at  the  balcony  ? 

ALAIN:  He's  going  to  climb  it! 

GEORGETTE  :  He  is  I 

182 


THE    SCHOOL    FOR    WIVES 

ALAIN:  He  is!  .  .  .  He  is!  .  .  .  He  isn't!! 

GEORGETTE:  What's  he  think  he's  doin'? 

ALAIN  :  Measuring. 

GEORGETTE:  That's      what      he's      doing—  taking 

measurements. 
ARNOLPHE:     This  is  insufferable! 

Go  out  and  stop  him  ! 

Ask  him  what  he  wants  I 

No,  don't!—  He  wouldn't  tell  you; 

and  I've  got  to  know! 

I'll  go  myself  - 

out  thro'  the  back;   and  take  him  from 
behind. 

(As  he  crosses  the  room) 

Thank  God  he  knows  my  Notary's  in 
the  Square. 

He   always   thinks    that's    where   I'm 
coming  from. 

(At  the  door) 

Is  he  still  there? 

GEORGETTE:  He's  pickin'  up  a  stone! 
ARNOLPHE:     Aah!! 

(And  he  bolts) 

\The  stage  becomes  dark.  Music,  which  continues  until  the 
Lights  go  up.  Outside  the  house.  Horace  is  at  the  balcony 
obviously  making  sure  of  its  height.  Amolphe  runs  on  to 


Horace  !  You  here  again  ! 

You,  too,  Seigneur  Arnolphe! 

What  are  you  doing  here  ? 

Some   very   awkward   business  —  with 

my  Notary  - 
keeps    me   on   tenterhooks;     running 

to  and  fro. 


ARNOLPHE  : 
HORACE: 


ARNOLPHE: 


ACT    THREE 


HORACE:       Oh,  such  adventures  since  I  saw  you 
last! 

Tve  been  up  in  her  room!! I 

ARNOLPHE      (letting  out  an  involuntary  cry) :  Aah ! 
HORACE  :         Don't  say  you're  ill  again  ?  ? 
ARNOLPHE:     No — only    excited    by    what    you're 

telling  me! 

HORACE:        I'll  tell  you  everything! 
ARNOLPHE:     For  God's  sake,  do!! 
HORACE:        Well,  when  I  left  you,  I  couldn't  rest. 

To  sleep  upon  it  seemed  impossible. 

In  fact,  my  legs  refused  to  bear  me 

back  to  my  lodgings. 

Instead,  they  brought  me  here! 

To  have  another  look — just  one  more 
look 

at  the  dear  window, 

behind  which  she  lives. 

And  there  she  was  1 

Out  on  her  balcony 

and  overjoyed  to  see  me. 
ARNOLPHE      (gives  a  groan  which  he  tries  to  suppress — 

the  result  is  an  unexpected  noise) 
HORACE:        I  knew  you'd  laugh! 

She  managed  to  come  down! 
ARNOLPHE:     Come  down! 

HORACE:        Down   the  back  stair- way;    into   the 
garden; 

opened  the  gate  for  me 

she  had  the  key. 

Oh,  she's  a  cunning  one. 
ARNOLPHE  :     She  is,  she  is ! 

HORACE:        Together  we  crept  up  again — into  her 
room. 

No  sooner  were  we  there, 

than  we  heard  footsteps ! 

184 


THE    SCHOOL    FOR    WIVES 

Her  guardian!  On  the  stairs! 

I  was  prepared  to  kill  him ! 
ARNOLPHE:     Eh? 
HORACE  :         It  wouldn't  have  been  wise. 

No  point  in  doing  that! 
ARNOLPHE:     No    point    at    all — Oh   no!     A    great 

mistake! 
HORACE:         But  Agnes,  acting  in  a  flash, 

bundled  me  into  her  wardrobe! 

He  stayed  there  half  an  hour 

talking  such  utter  drivel 

what  I  could  hear  of  it. 

There  I  was — shut  up 

it  was  as  dark  as  night  and  hot  as  hell, 

I  couldn't  see  a  thing, 

and  then — I  got  the  cramps ! 

I  bumped  my  head;    knocked  down  a 
dress; 

and  got  myself  entangled  in  a  shift ! 

The  row  I  made! 

I  can't  imagine  how  he  didn't  hear 

God,  he  must  be  decrepit! 

Deaf  as  a  post. 

ARNOLPHE      (not hearing)-.  Eh? 
HORACE:        I  said,  deaf  as  a  post, 

ARNOLPHE:     Oh  yes 

HORACE  :        And  tonight ! ! ! 

ARNOLPHE  :     Tonight  ?  ?  ? 
HORACE:        I  visit  her  again. 

She  begged  me  to ! 

Never  have  I  known, 

such  simple,  natural,  unconventional, 
uninhibited 

yet  strangely  innocent  expression 

of  all  she  feels  and  wants. 

Oh,  I'm  her  skve! 

185 


ACT    THREE 

Obeying  her  every  whim! 
I  don't  know  how  to  wait  till  darkness 
falls 

Then,  I  shall  bring  a  ladder 

ARNOLPHE  :     A  ladder ! 

HORACE:        I've  taken  the  measurements. 

Under  his  very  nose! 

And  there  he  sits,  snug  in  his  little 
fortress, 

thinking  himself  secure. 

But  tonight 

ARNOLPHE  :     Yes  ?  ? 
HORACE:        YES!!! 

\Chrysalde  comes  hurrying  on.~\ 

CHRYSALDE:  Ah,  my  dear  friend!  I'm  pleased  to  find 

you. 
I  feared  I  might  be  late. 

ARNOLPHE:    Late?  Late  for  what? 

CHRYSALDE:  Dinner! 

ARNOLPHE:     Dinner — who  wants  dinner? 

CHRYSALDE:  I  do.  You  invited  me! 

ARNOLPHE:     Oh!  ...  er!  ...  This  is  Horace! 
Son  of  my  oldest  friend. 

HORACE:        And  a  good  friend  to  me — dear  Seig 
neur  Arnolphe. 

CHRYSALDE:  You  mustn't  call  him  that! 

HORACE:        Not  call  him  by  his  name? 

CHRYSALDE:  It's  not  his  name.  He's  changed  it! 

ARNOLPHE:    No,  no!  Indeed  I  haven't. 

CHRYSALDE:  You  told  me  so  yourself 
only  this  morning,. 
"  Here  I'm  not  known  as  Arnolphe  " 

— that's  what  you  said 

"  My  name  is  now "  .  .  .  Ah,  it's 

on  my  tongue  .  .  . 

186 


THE    SCHOOL    FOR    WIVES 


"  is  now "  No,  I've  forgotten  it! 

ARNOLPHE      (to  himself)-.  Thank  God  for  that! 
CHRYSALDE:  Don't  tell  me!  I'll  have  it  in  a  moment! 

It  was  a  silly  name. 

La  ...  La.  .  .  . 
ARNOLPHE      (breaking  in) :  Oh  la  k !  I 

(Then  he  b/sses,  under  his  breath) 

Hold  your  tongue! 
CHRYSALDE:  I  beg  your  pardon! 
HORACE:  I  must  be  off. 

(To  Chrysalde)  Sir,  I  take  my  leave ! 

(To  Arnolphe)  Wish  me  luck  tonight, 

[And  he  goes.] 

CHRYSALDE     (a  sudden  shout  of  remembering) : 

La  Souche!  LaSouche!! 
ARNOLPHE  :     Ugh ! 

HORACE          (returning)'*  Who  called  La  Souche? 
ARNOLPHE  :     Nobody  called !  I  sneezed !  (He  sneezes) 
La  ...  Soooooche! 

I  think  my  cold  is  worse ! 
HORACE:         Oh,  I'm  sorry. 

(To  Chrysalde)  We  must  take  care  of  him. 

I'm  anxious  for  him — he  has  so  many 
ailments. 

Well,  goodbye  again! 

[And  again  he  goes.] 


CHRYSALDE: 

ARNOLPHE 

CHRYSALDE 


ARNOLPHE : 


Why  this  mystery? 

(tetchilj) :  There  is  no  mystery. 

(good  humoured) : 

I  should  have  thought  there  was! 

But  let  it  go !  What  about  dinner  ? 

I'm  not  hungry ! 

187 


ACT    THREE 


CHRYSALDE:  But  I  am! !  Do  we  have  dinner  here? 

I  gather  your  intended  doesn't  dine  out! 
ARNOLPHE  :     She  won't  get  any  dinner. 
CHRYSALDE:  Not  hungry  either? 
ARNOLPHE  :    Whether  she  is  or  not,  she'll  go  without ! 
CHRYSALDE:  You  sound  a  happy  household!   Any 
thing  wrong? 
ARNOLPHE:     Everything! 

CHRYSALDE  :   Oh  my  poor  friend — tell  me  the  trouble ! 
ARNOLPHE      (a  soulful  and  comprehensive  protest} 

Oh,  I'm  the  sport  of  Fate! 

That's  what  I  am — a  plaything  of  the 
gods! 

And  after  all  the  forethought  that  I  have 
taken 

to  arrange  the  future  exactly  as  I  want — 

It  isn't  fair! 

I  ask  no  special  treatment  from  Above. 

A  little  recognition,  some  slight  reward, 

for  all  I've  done 

and  all  I  haven't  done 

But  no!    The  gods  are  jealous,  that's 
what  it  is ! 

They'll  have  no  planning  in  the  Uni 
verse 

except  their  Own. 
CHRYSALDE:  Yes;   but — apart  from  the  Universe — 

what's  wrong? 
ARNOLPHE:     I'll     tell     you.      Listen — that     young 

jackanapes 

CHRYSALDE:  Horace?  The  Charming  Horace ?? 
ARNOLPHE:     — the  devil  take  his  charm 

while  I  was  away,  broke  into  my  house. 
CHRYSALDE:  And  met  the  girl ? 

And  she  thinks  well  of  him  ? 
ARNOLPHE:    A  thousand  times  too  well! 

188 


THE    SCHOOL    FOR   WIVES 

CHRYSALDE:  Well — what  d'you  expect? 

The  first  young  gentleman  she's  ever 
seen! 

And  most  presentable! 

Were  he  a  Monster,  she'd  have  been 

intrigued! 
ARNOLPHE  :     He  is  a  Monster — of  Deceit ! 

And  so  is  she! 

The  way  they  plot  and  plan 

CHRYSALDE     (laughing  at  him} : 

You've  spent  your  life  in  making  plans 

to  outwit  your  fellows. 

It  has  one  disadvantage — others  do  the 

same! 

ARNOLPHE  :     But  she's  my  wife ! 
CHRYSALDE:  Is  she? 

ARNOLPHE  :     Well,  very  nearly  is 

CHRYSALDE:  And  you're  jealous! 
ARNOLPHE  :     Wouldn't  you  be  ? 
CHRYSALDE:  Yes.  I  expect  I  should! 

But  knowing  myself,  as  well  as  knowing 
you, 

I    doubt   if  I    should   feel   the   same 
despair 

nor   even,  for  that  matter,   lose   my 

appetite ! 

ARNOLPHE:     I  hate  your  flippancy! 
CHRYSALDE:  An  attempt  to  laugh  you  out  of  your 
misery! 

But,  in  all  seriousness, 

it's  not  the  gods 

or  fate 

or  some  External  Thing 

that  tortures  you. 

It's  something  in  yourself 

189 


ACT    THREE 

It's  this  barbaric  passion  of  possessive- 
ness. 

You  can't  keep  even  your  dearest  things 

completely  to  yourself. 
ARNOLPHE:    There  is  a  limit. 

CHRYSALDE:   Of  course  there  is.   It's  where  you  set 
your  limits. 

Yours  are  quite  impossibly  confined. 

They  should  be  stretched  with  genero 
sity. 

A  civilised  desire  that  the  one  you  love 

should  have  the  most  from  life. 
ARNOLPHE  :     Revolting  nonsense ! 

An  intellectual  excuse  for  immorality ! 
CHRYSALDE     (heated  himself) 

Let  me  tell  you,  sir, 

I  think  your  attitude  just  as  nonsensical 

and  as  revolting — as  you  think  mine. 

And  to  what  depths  of  folly 

does   this   dread  of  cuckoldry  reduce 
you! 

A  man  may  be  a  thief;   a  bully;    or  a 
cheat; 

if  his  wife's  faithful  to  him, 

he's  a  decent  chap! 

Why  judge  a  man  by  how  his  wife 
behaves  ? 

Take  my  advice 

ARNOLPHE:     Advice  from  you !  Rank  poison! 
CHRYSALDE:  Take  it  as  medicine  then! 

A' little  at  a  time. 

Nasty — but  to  be  swallowed. 

Here's  a  dose : 

look  to  your  own  behaviour] 

Not  too  much  to  hers; 

190 


THE    SCHOOL    FOR    WIVES 


or  you  may  drive  her  to  the  thing  you 

fear. 

ARNOLPHE:     I  never  heard  such  idiocy. 
I'll  tell  you  this : 
unless  I  keep  an  eye  on  her; 

both  eyes — wide  open 

the    worst    will    happen — I    shall    be 

betrayed. 

CHRYSALDE     What  then? 

ARNOLPHE:     Eh?  What  was  that?  What  did  I  hear  ?  ? 
CHRYSALDE:  It's  an  accident  can  happen  to  us  all  I 

To    bear   it   bravely,    and    with    self- 
respect 

ARNOLPHE  :     Self-respect ! 

You  sicken  me. 

To  compromise  with  Evil;   and  call  it 

self-respect! 

CHRYSALDE  :  The  thing's  as  EviTas^'you  think  it  is. 
No  more.,  no  less. 

Regard  it  as  overwhelming — you'll  be 
overwhelmed. 
Believe  it  bearable — you'll  find  you'll 

bear  it. 
ARNOLPHE:     And  go  about  the  place3 

boasting  my  wife  has  lovers — and  I  like 

it! 

If  you  boast  about  it,  everybody  knows. 
But  so  they  do  if  you  run  mad, 
and  call  destruction  down  on  all  con 
cerned, 

yourself  included ! 
You're   just   as   ridiculous    raging 

boasting. 

There's  a  middle  way. 
Keep  quiet  about  it! 
Steel  yourself  to  silence. 


CHRYSALDE : 


as 


191 


ACT    THREE 

Avert  your  eyes ! 

And  it  can  happen — when  you  turn  to 

look, 

there's  nothing  there ! 
ARNOLPHE:    That's  very  possible! 

No  lover  and  no  wife — they've  gone 

away  together. 
Any  more  physic  ? 
I'll  pour  it  in  the  street. 
CHRYSALDE:  I'll  give  you  one  more  dose. 

Fd  rather  be  married  to  a  wife, 
who  might,  on  occasion,  have  a  faith 
less  lapse, 

than  to  a  nagging  one. 
Or  to  a  wife,  always  making  demands, 
who  eats  a  man  alive, 
complaining  all  the  time 
she  doesn't  like  the  taste ! 

Or  to  the  worst  of  all 

some  Paragon  of  Virtue, 

who  believes  her  Faithfulness 

to  be  her  only  obligation  in  the  married 

state. 
And    has    only    one    interest    in    her 

husband 

that   he    should   have   no   interest   in 

another  woman ! 
Then,  she  springs  to  Life, 
and  pours  abuse  upon  him. 
Here's  a  kst  pill! 
If  a  woman  isn't  always  all  that  she 

should  be 

it  gives  the  man  a  certain  latitude. 
So  swallow  that! 

Talking  of  swallowing — I'm  hungry ! 
I  must  go  and  eat! 

192 


THE    SCHOOL    FOR    WIVES 


[And  without  waiting,  he  strides  off.} 
ARNOLPHE:     Here!  Hi!  Comeback! 
\but  Chrysalde  has  gone  ^\ 


Of  all  the  idiots ! 

(Then  he  turns  towards  the  house  and  calls] 

Akin!  .  .  .  Alain!!  .  .  .  Georgette! 


[Alain  appears.} 

Oh,  there  you  are! 

Come  out  here;  I  want  to  talk  to  you. 

Is  Georgette  there  ? 
ALAIN:  She's  coming. 

ARNOLPHE      (turning  again  from  the  house) : 

Oh,  I'm  so  angry! 
GEORGETTE    (appearing;  to  Alain): 

What's  the  matter  now  ? 
ALAIN  (to  Arnolphe) :  With  us  ? 

ARNOLPHE  :     No.  Not  with  you. 

An  interfering  fool,  who  says  a  lot  of 
things 

I  don't  know  how  to  answer — till  he's 
gone! 

Oh,  what's  he  matter? 

I  can  deal  with  him  another  time. 

Now  to  deal  with  Horace ! 

And  I  mil! 

(To  the  servants) 

I  found  out  what  he  was  up  to ; 

you  were  right — measuring. 

He's  going  to  bring  a  ladder ! 
GEORGETTE:  A  ladder?  Whatever  for? 
ARNOLPHE:     What  d'you  think? 

7  193 


ACT  THREE 


GEORGETTE: 
ARNOLPHE : 

ALAIN: 


ARNOLPHE: 

GEORGETTE : 
ALAIN: 
ARNOLPHE : 
GEORGETTE : 
ALAIN: 
ARNOLPHE: 


To  climb. 

My  God,  you're  bright! 

You  mean  he's  going  to  climb  a  ladder 

on    to     the    balcony?  .  .  .  Into    her 

room? 
I  don't  suppose  he'd  stop  out  on  the 

balcony! 

Oh,  the  wickedness ! 
What  are  you  going  to  do  ? 
I'm  going  to  let  him. 

Let  him? 


You're  going  to  let  him? 

Hold  your  tongues. 

He's  coming  here  tonight! 

Inside  the  house,  we  three  will  be  on 

guard 

watching ! 

As  soon  as  he  appears, 

the  two  of  you — armed  with  sticks 

out  thro'  the  kitchen;    into  the  street; 

behind  him ! 

It'll  be  dark. 

He'll  place  his  kdder. 

As  soon  as  he  sets  one  foot  upon  the 

bottom  rung 
you  attack. 
And  beat  him. 
Beat  him  black  and  blue. 
Belabour  him. 

Don't  spare  that  back  of  his ! 
We'll  teach  him  such  a  lesson! 
Black-and-blue,  and  bleeding,  he  can 

creep  home, 

and  that's  the  kst  we'll  have  of  him 

hanging  about  the  place! 
Into  the  house! 


194 


THE    SCHOOL    FOR    WIVES 

We  have  to  find  the  sticks. 

They  must  be  stout  and  strong,  and 

very  nobblyl 
I  could  be  glad  of  this  I 
I  feel  myself,  tonight,  the  champion  of 

my  sex. 

If  every  lover  were  received  like  this, 
that    wretched    animal  —  a    man    with 

horns  - 

would  soon  become  extinct! 
In  with  you.   In. 
It's  getting  dark. 
We  shan't  have  long  to  wait. 


\Thej  go  in.  The  Lights  fade.  .  .  .  &lusic>  which  continues 
until  the  Lights  come  up.  Inside  the  room.  .  .  .  I\0w  it 
is  Ht  by  candles.  And  Arnolphe  with  his  two  servants  is 
at  the  window  peering  out  into  the  night.} 

ARNOLPHE  :     He  should  be  coming  any  moment  now  ! 
It's  very  dark! 
We   shall   see   him   when   he    comes, 

round  the  corner, 
under  the  lamplight,  there,  across  the 

road. 
.  .  .  What  was  that?  .  .  .  Something 

moved  ! 

Isn't  that  a  shadow?  On  the  wall? 
It  moved  again  - 
It*  shim!  .  .  .  He's  coming!  .  .  .  Here 

he  isj 

And  with  his  ladder! 
Have  you  got  your  sticks  ? 
He's  stopping  .  .  .  and  looks  round, 
Now  looks  to  her  balcony. 
Oh,  you  villain! 


ACT    THREE 


He  thinks  he's  unobserved! 

Here  he  comes,  nearer.  .  .  . 

Careful!     Keep    from    the    window! 

Don't  let  him  see  you! 
Are  you  ready  ? 
Don't  go  yet ! 
Wait   till    I    give    the   word  ...  get 

ready  .  .  . 
ready.  .  .  . 
Now! 
Out!   Thro'  the  kitchen. 

]The  servants  with  an  ugly-looking  stick  each  run  to  the 
door.    There  he  stops  them  for  a  last  quick  instruction^ 

ARNOLPHE:     As  he  mounts  the  ladder — strike! 
And  strike  hard. 
Don't  spare  your  blows. 
There's  nothing  sham  about  this  fight, 
so  strike  to  hurt. 


[They  go.} 


(alone)  Oh,  this  is  wonderful ! 

I  wouldn't  miss  this  moment  for  the 

world! 

(cautiously  to  the  window  again} 
What's  he  doing  now  ? 
How  stealthily  he  moves ! 
Again,    he    stops!  .  .  .  again,    looks 

up!  ... 

now  sets  the  kdder!  .  .  . 
Where  are  those  servants  ?  ? 
In  a  moment,  he'll  be  up  it. 
Ah!   There  they  are! 
I  can  see  'em,  in  the  lamplight! 
They  mustn't  stop  there,  or  he'll  see 

them  too ! ! 

196 


THE    SCHOOL    FOR    WIVES 

Ah,  there  they  go — into  the  shadows ! 
I  can  see  'em  moving. 

They  must  be  near  him 

Yes,  they're  close  behind  him!  Almost 

touching! 

Now  he  starts  to  climb ! 
Now!  .  .  .  Now/!! 

[And  he  himself  gives  a  great  swinging  blow  with  an 
imaginary  stick — which  is  followed  by  a  great  cry.] 

He's  getting  what  he  asked  for! 

(But  he  shrinks  away  from  the  windoiv) 

My  God,  Akin  can  hit ! 

And  Georgette,  too! 

I've  never  seen  a  carpet  beaten  with  half 

such  energy.  .  .  . 

(He  stands  and  listens  .  .  .  but  there  is  no 

sound} 

What's  happened  ? 
(He  returns  to  the  window} 
What  could  have  happened  ?  ? 
I    can't    see    anyone  .  .  .  and    not    a 

sound. 
He  must  have  got  away;  and  they'll  be 

coming  back. 
(He  moves  about  for  a  few  moments,  in  a 

state  of  great  agitation) 
Why  don't  they  come! ! 
They  may  have  overdone  it ! 
That  kst  blow  of  Alain's  would  have 

felled  an  ox. 
I  can't  stand  much  of  this ! ! ! 

[The  servants  re-enter,  Alain  first  .  .  .  Georgette  behind. 
They  look  at  him.    There  is  a  silence.  Theni\ 


ACT    THREE 


.  .  .  Well? 

ALAIN:  Master!  .  .  .  He's  dead! 

ARNOLPHE:     .  .  .  Merciful  Heaven!  .  .  . 

(Then  suddenly  he  shouts) 

Madman!  .  .  .  You  madman! 
ALAIN  (shouting  back  in  his  fear) : 

Don't  shout  at  me ! 

Nor  blame  us  either! 

We  did  what  we  was  told. 

[Arnolphe  stands  gaping  at  him  for  a  few  moments  in 
silent  horror \] 


ARNOLPHE 


ALAIN 


ARNOLPHE  I 

ALAIN: 
ARNOLPHE ! 
ALAIN: 
ARNOLPHE: 
ALAIN: 


(in    a    small,    dry    voice)'.      .  .  .  What 

happened  ? 
(quietly): 

As  he  began  to  climb, 
I  aimed  a  blow. 
But  as  I  aimed  he  stooped. 
It  must  have  hit  his  head. 
He  gave  a  cry;   one  cry; 
let  go  his  hold — and  fell. 
Fell  at  my  feet; 

and  didn't  move  .  .  .  'e  never  moved ! 
I  turned  him  over,  like  a  sack  o'  coals ! 
There  never  was  a  doornail,  half  as  dead 
.  .  .  'e  never  moved ! 
He  never  moved ! 
He  lies  there  now. 
Oh  no,  'e  don't! 
Well,  where's  he  gone  to  ?  ? 
Into  the  garden! 
Into  the  garden  ?  ?  ? 
Yes.   I  dragged  him  there! 
Round  to  the  back. 
No  point  in  leaving  him, 

198 


THE    SCHOOL    FOR    WIVES 


for  every  stranger,  passing  by,  to  see! 
Master — this  is  Murder. 

[Upon  which  Georgette  sets  up  a  great  wailing  hullabaloo^ 


GEORGETTE: 


ARNOLPHE: 


ALAIN: 
ARNOLPHE: 
ALAIN: 
ARNOLPHE  : 


ALAIN: 
ARNOLPHE: 


GEORGETTE: 
ARNOLPHE  : 


Oh!   Oh!!   Oh!!! 

I'm  frightened!  Fm  afraid! 

What  are  we  going  to  do  ? 

What'U  they  do  to  us  ? 

We'll    be    arrested;     put    in    prison; 

executed!!! 

Oh,  for  God's  sake,  woman,  stop  it, 
stop  that  noise. 
You'll  be  all  right.  No  harm'll  come  to 

you. 

Or  him;   or  me. 

No  harm! !  How  d'you  make  that  out? 
The  blow  was  struck  in  self-defence. 
Well!  I  of  all  the— Self-Defence! ! ! 
Defending  my  honour! 
And  the  girl's ! 
And  he  was  breaking  in. 
Yes ;   that's  true  enough. 
The  Law  has  little  sympathy  for  thieves ; 

and  young  seducers 

Oh — are  you  sure  of  that  ? 

Well,  if  it  has 

there's  certainly  a  way  of  getting  round 

it. 

Let  me  think! 
First,     leave     the     kdder    there — for 

evidence. 
Next — the  body- 


ALAIN: 


In  the  potting  shed. 
He'll  stay  there  till  you  want  him. 
ARNOLPHE:     I'll  to  the  Notary. 


199 


ACT    THREE 

If  he's  in  bed,  I'll  rouse  him. 

He'll  tell  us  what  to  do. 

It  may  be  that  La  Souche  must  dis 
appear; 

and  the  four  of  us  leave  Paris  for  a 
while; 

and  live  in  my  country  house. 

There  I  am  "  Arnolphe  ". 

and  "  La  Souche  "  is  nobody. 

He  doesn't  exist ! 

How  can  a  man  without  existence 

commit  a  crime  ? 

Pack  all  your  things  to  travel,  and  wait 
here. 

(At  the  door.,  he  has  another  thought) 

Did  you  see  Agnes? 
GEORGETTE:  No! 
ALAIN:  Not  a  sign  of  her! 

ARNOLPHE  :     That's  something  to  be  thankful  for ! — 

Pack  her  things,  too. 

[He  goes.  Light  fades.  Music  which  continues  until  the 
Lights  come  up  again. 

In  the  street. 

It  is  rather  dark;  there  is  some  moonlight;  and  on  the  side 

of  the  stage  furthest  from  the  house  some  kind  of  street 

lamp  throws  an  arc  of  golden  light  around  itself. 

Arnolphe  comes  out  of  his  front  door,,  and  crosses  the  stage 

not  without  apprehension. 

And  when  he  is  in  the  patch  of  golden  light \  ke  hears  his 

own  name  called^ 

A  VOICE:        Seigneur  Arnolphe! 
ARNOLPHE      (stopping  dead;  very  scared) : 

Who's  that??  .  .  .  who  called??? 

200 


THE    SCHOOL    FOR    WIVES 

THE  VOICE     (again) '  Seigneur  Arnolphe ! 
ARNOLPHE      (In  a  trembling  voice) :  Who  Is  it  ? 
HORACE          (appearing):  Me! 

\Arnolphe  lets  out  a  strangled  cry.] 

You  didn't  expect  to  see  me  here  again  1 

And  I  must  say :  I*m  not  surprised. 
Oh,  Seigneur  Arnolphe 

since  I  saw  you  last, 

I've  had  such  strokes  of  luck ! 
ARNOLPHE  :     Of  what? 

HORACE  :         Of  luck !   Of  great  good  fortune ! 
ARNOLPHE  :     I  think  I'm  going  mad. 
HORACE  :         Off  to  your  Notary  again  ?  ? 
ARNOLPHE:     Same  old  business. 

At  it  day  and  night. 

HORACE  :         But  that's  where  I  was  going ! 
ARNOLPHE:     You?  To  my  Notary  I 
HORACE:        Yes. 
ARNOLPHE  :     Whatever  for  ? 

Has  something  happened  to  you? 
HORACE  :         It  has !  Indeed  it  has. 
ARNOLPHE:     I  should  keep  quiet  about  it,  if  I  were 

you. 
HORACE:         Keep  quiet?  No.  Never. 

He'll  see  the  inside  of  a  prison, 

or  something  worse. 
ARNOLPHE:     You  mean  La  Souche? 
HORACE:         La  Souche  is  done  for;  finished; 

we've  heard  the  kst  of  him. 
ARNOLPHE:    I  think  you  may  be  right! 
HORACE:        We  can  forget  him.    He  no  longer 
counts.     . . 

Things  have  gone  further! 
ARNOLPHE:    What's  that?  Further? 


201 


ACT    THREE 


HORACE:         Adventure  upon  Adventure. 

Listen  to  this: 

I  came  here  with  a  ladder — as  I  said — 

no  sooner  had  I  set  one  foot  upon  a 
rung, 

than  I  was  set  upon. 

It  must  have  been  La  Souche. 
ARNOLPHE:     Oh  no! 
HORACE:         How  did  he  know? 
ARNOLPHE  :     Know  what  ? 
HORACE:        That  I  was  coming. 
ARNOLPHE  :     Don't  ask  me ! 

And    you    were    set    upon!     I    can't 

believe  it. 
HORACE:         They  might  have  killed  me, 

very  nearly  did. 

A  blow  right  on  the  head. 

It  knocked  me  out! 

And  the  next  thing  I  knew, 

I  slowly  realised  I  was  on  the  ground 

and  someone  bending  over  me. 

La  Souche! — or  one  of  his  household, 

there  were  two  of  them 

I'd  been  unconscious,  and  my  eyes  were 
closed, 

and  so  I  kept  'em  closed 

I  heard   him  telling   someone   I    was 
dead 

Lord,  he  was  frightened. 

Then,  if  you  please,  he  took  me  by  the 
feet, 

and  dragged  me,  for  what  seemed  a 
hundred  miles, 

over  some  cobble  stones, 

and  thro'  a  cabbage  patch, 

and  dumped  me  in  a  shed. 


THE  SCHOOL  FOR  WIVES 


ARNOLPHE: 
HORACE : 


ARNOLPHE: 
HORACE  : 

ARNOLPHE: 
HORACE: 


And  shut  the  door! 

I  still  felt  pretty  dizzy. 

And  not  knowing  where  they  were, 

I  thought  Fd  better  stop  there  for  a 

while. 

Then,  in  the  dark, 

I  heard  a  quiet  fumbling  at  the  door, 
and  it  was  opened. 
Someone  came  in. 
And  knelt  beside  me, 
and  began  to  cry! 
Tears  fell  on  my  face; 
well,  by  that  time,  I  thought  that  Fd 

been 

dead  for  long  enough 

and  opened  my  eyes. 

A  face — so  close  to  mine 

in  the  half- darkness 

looking  down  at  me. 

It  was  hers. 

Hers  ?  ?  ?  You  mean  Agnes  ? 

Yes.  Agnes. 

She'd  watched  the  whole  thing  from  her 

balcony. 

And  when  they'd  gone,  came  down. 
Now  d'you  realise  my  luck  ? 
She's  come  to  me ! 
She's  mine! 
She's  with  me  now! 
Aah! 
Dear  Seigneur  Arnolphe,  ought  you  to 

be  out? 
Out? 
This  chill  night  air  is  shocking  for  a 

cold. 


203 


your 


ACT    THREE 

ARNOLPHE:     She's  with  you  now? 

What  have  you  done  with  her  ? 

Where  is  she? 
HORACE:         Under  that  archway. 

Waiting  for  me. 

(Pointing  off] 

You  can  see  her  from  here. 

I   was   taking   her   with   me   to 
Notary. 

I   thought  perhaps   he'd   know   your 
whereabouts. 

I  had  to  find  you 

even  at  this  hour. 

There's  no  one  else! 

Sir,  I  have  to  ask  you  one  last  favour. 

You  see; 

as  it's  turned  out,  this  is  no  episode. 

Her  tears  upon  my  face! 

The  things  she  said  to  me ! 

First,    her    distress;     and    then,    her 
happiness ! 

I  know  she  loves  me. 

Even  more  deeply 

I  know  that  I  love  her. 
,        Those  few  moments  in  a  potting  shed — 

But  she  is  all  my  world, 

and  I  am  hers 

I  mean  to  marry  her. 
ARNOLPHE:     Marry! 
HORACE:        That,  with  your  Notary's  help, 

I  can  do  tomorrow. 

But  there's  tonight 
ARNOLPHE  :    What  of  tonight  ? 
HORACE:        Perhaps  you'll  think  I'm  foolish; 

but  even  before  I'm  married, 

she  seems  to  be  my  wife. 

204 


THE    SCHOOL    FOR    WIVES 


And  there's  her  reputation  to  be  thought 
of. 

She  can't  come  home  with  me; 

because,  in  ray  lodgings.,  Fm  alone 

with  only  one  room. 

Dear  sir,  would  you,  just  for  tonight, 

I  hardly  like  to  say  it 

Would  you  take  care  of  her? 
ARNOLPHE:     Me — take  care  of  her? 
HORACE:         I  know  it's  a  lot  to  ask. 
ARNOLPHE:     Yes;  but  I  will,  my  boy;    of  course  I 
will. 

Bring  her  to  me  at  once. 
HORACE:        I  will.  I  will.  At  once, 

Oh,  Fm  so  grateful! 

Oh,  when  you  see  her, 

you'll  fall  in  love  with  her. 
ARNOLPHE:     Wait!   Wait  a  moment!   Wait! 

What  am  I  thinking  of? 

When  she  sees  me — it's  always  possible 

she  may  not  want  to  come. 

HORACE:         She  doesn't  want  to  leave  me  anyhow. 
ARNOLPHE:     Is  that  so?    In  that  case,  we  must  be 
careful. 

We  have  to  consider  her! 

Let  me  advise ! 

Forgive  me,  but  I'm  older 

Now,  let  me  think: 

I'll  stand  aside. 

You  tell  her  who  I  am. 

Old  Seigneur  Arnolphe,  tell  her 

your  father's  oldest  friend 

and  yours. 

And  tell  her  this : 

I'll  guard  her,  as  if  she  were  my  own. 
HORACE:         How  can  I  thank  you! 

205 


ACT    THREE 

ARNOLPHE  :    I'm  pleased  to  do  it. 

Very  pleased 

you'll  never  know  how  pleased  !- 

Now 

go  and  send  her  to  me! 
I'll  wait  here ! 


[He  makes  a  gesture  throwing  his  cloak  up  round  his  face 
so  as  to  hide  it — but  he  just  overdoes  it — so  that  Horace 
notices.] 

HORACE  :         Why  are  you  doing  that  ? 
ARNOLPHE  :     D  oing  what  ? 

HORACE:        Putting  your  cloak  about  your  face? 
ARNOLPHE:     Eh?  ...  I'm  feeling  cold  !• 

The  night  air,  you  know ! 

You  were  quite  right,  my  boy — it's  very 
dangerous ! 

A  touch  of  pleurisy! 

(He  clutches  at  his  chest) 
HORACE:        Oh  sir! 

ARNOLPHE:     No  matter!   Never  mind!    I'll  risk  my 
life  for  you 

only  for  Heaven's  sake,  dear  fellow, 

and  for  mine 

cut  this  thing  short! 

As  quick  as  you  can,  say  your  Goodnight 
to  her, 

allay  her  fears ; 

tell  her  you'll  fetch  her  early  in  the 
morning. 

Remember,  every  added  moment 

brings  me  nearer  Death 

I  fear  pneumonia ! 

[He  has  a  terrible  fit  of  coughing.] 
206 


THE    SCHOOL    FOR    WIVES 


HORACE  :         Oh,  indeed,  I'll  hurry- 


ARNOLPHE : 


AGNES: 

HORACE : 


AGNES : 

HORACE: 
AGNES: 

HORACE: 

AGNES : 


you  must  get  home  to  bed. 

Yes.   Yes.   I  must. 

At  once. 

So  go  and  send  her  to  me. 


[Horace  runs  off.  Arnolphe,  his  cloak  well  across  hisfacey 
moves  into  the  darkest  shadow  he  can  find.  .  .  .  Horace 
re-enters  with  Agnes.  But  she  Is  unwilling^ 

HORACE  :         My  darling  love, 

he'll  guard  you  with  his  life 

he's  told  me  so, 

my  father's  oldest  friend. 

No  one  could  be  more  suitable  in  all 
the  world. 

I  want  to  stay  with  you ! 

I  want  you  to : 

but,  dearest,  you  can't. 

For  one  night — that's  all 

and  for  my  sake,  as  well  as  yours. 

I'm  not  happy  any  more 

unless  you're  with  me, 

It's  the  same  with  me. 

Then  why  not  stay  together  1 1 

It's  a  silly  world ! 

You  know  I  love  you. 

Not  as  I  love  you. 

For  if  you  did, 

you'd  never  let  me  go ! 

(She  catches  sight  of  the  dark  figure  of 
Arnolphe) 

Who's  that? 
HORACE:        That's  him! 


[Agnes  takes  a  step  towards  htm:  and  drops  a  curtsey. 
207 


ACT    THREE 

Arnolphe^  still  in  deep  shadow,  bom.  But  Agnes  turns 
back  to  Horace.] 

AGNES:  Don't  go! 

[Behind  her  back,  Amolphe  is  now  making  violent  signs  to 
Horace,  that  he  should  go.] 

HORACE:        I  must. 
AGNES  :  Then  come  back  soon. 

HORACE:        Tomorrow  morning,  before  the  sun  is 
up, 

I'll  come  to  his  house,  to  fetch  you; 

and  we'll  never  part  again. 
AGNES:  I'm  frightened!    Don't  leave  me  here, 

alone! 
HORACE  :        Darling — you're  not  alone ! 

Look!  There's  my  friend! 

And  yours. 

Tomorrow  morning.  Early. 

Till  then— Goodnight. 

[He  kisses  her;  and  goes.  .  .  .  She  stands,  looking  after 
him.  .  .  .  Stealthily,  like  an  animal  after  its  prey, 
Arnolphe  creeps  towards  her.  Seeming  to  sense  his  approach^ 
she  turns  to  him.  Swiftly,  all  in  one  movement,  he  seizes  her 
by  the  hand,  and  hurries  her  towards  the  house] 

AGNES  (utterly  taken  by  surprise) : 

Oh!  ...  Oh!  ...  No  ...  No  ...  No! 

[But  she  hardly  has  time  to  raise  her  voice  before  they 
disappear  into  the  house.  The  Lights  fade.  Music,  which 
continues,  until  the  Lights  come  up.  Inside  the  house.  .  .  . 
It  is  daylight.  Piled  about  the  room  are  baggages  and  boxes 
and  bundles — the  paraphernalia  of  travel.  Arnolphe  is 

208 


THE    SCHOOL    FOR    WIVES 

there;  and  the  hvo  servants;  and  Agnes  sits  perched  on  a 
large  travelling  trunk,  disconsolate.] 

ARNOLPHE  :     Is  all  the  packing  done  ? 
All  of  it? 

(A.t  the  various  piles) 
— Mine;  and  yours; 
and  yours;  and  hers. 
All  ready,  eh? 

Ready  to  be  off  into  the  country 
at  any  moment. 
Good. 

You  needn't  hang  about! 
I  can  make  sure  she  doesn't  run  away. 
Go  to  your  rooms. 

I'll  call  you  when  I  want  you 

in  a  moment. 

\The  servants  go  .  .  .  and  he  turns  to  A-gnes.    He  has 
regained  his  composure;   but  is  in  a  cold  rage.] 

Well!— Miss  Simplicity! 

Miss  Innocence!! 

Miss  C,unning\  \  \ 

Where  did  you  learn  it,  eh  ? 

You're  wicked  from  your  birth 

— the  lot  of  you 

that's  what  it  is ! 

Thank  God,  I  know  it; 

and  can  be  cunning,  too ! 

I  can  match^yours ;  and  add  some  of  my 

own. 

And  I  already  have ! 
Don't  look  to  your  lover  to  come  and 

rescue  you. 
He  knows  me  by  another  name, 

209 


ACT    THREE 


and  in  another  house ! 
AGNES  :  Why  do  you  scold  me  so  ? 

I've  done  nothing  wrong! 
ARNOLPHE:     Wrong!   Done  nothing  wrong ? 

To   run   off  with   a   lover!     Nothing 

wrong ! ! ! 
AGNES  :  But  to  be  married ! 

That's  why  I  went  to  him ! 

Marriage  takes  away  the  sin 

you  told  me  so  yourself! 
ARNOLPHE:     Oh,  you're  a  half- wit  1 

You  can  marry  only  one  husband 

and  you're  to  marry  me. 
AGNES:           I'd  much  rather  not! 
ARNOLPHE  :     And  why  ? 
AGNES  :  Well — for  one  thing 

you  make  it  sound  so  awful! 

He  makes  it  sound  a  joy. 

Besides,  I  love  him ! 
ARNOLPHE:    You  dare  sit  there, 

and  tell  me  that  you  love  him  ? 
AGNES:  But  it's  true! 

The  Nuns  taught  me  always  to  tell  the 

truth. 
ARNOLPHE:     Oh  drat  the  Nuns! 

Oh  what  a  reward  for  doing  all  in  my 
power 

everything  I  could 

to  make  you  love  me! 

AGNES  :  What  did  you  say ! — "  to  make  me  love 

you"? 

ARNOLPHE:    Yes 

AGNES  :  You've  tried  ? 

ARNOLPHE  :     Of  course  I  have ! 
AGNES:  Well!  .  .  .  Who  would  have  thought 

it! 


THE    SCHOOL    FOR    WIVES 

You're  not  as  good  at  it  as  Horace  is! 
ARNOLPHE  :     Oh,  how  you  answer  back ! 

Any  sophisticated  Miss  in  High  Society 
could  learn  from  you. 

Very  well! 

Since  you're  so  clever,  and  know  every 
thing, 

answer  me  this  : 

Considering  everything  I've  done  for 
you, 

had  you  educated, 

fed  you;   and  clothed  you; — and  now, 

given  you  a  house  and  servants  of  your 

own 

AGNES  :  I  don't  call  those  servants ; 

they're  more  like  prison  guards. 

And  had  me  educated  1 

Taught ! 

What  did  you  have  me  taught? 

Nothing  I — so  I'm  ashamed! 

He  taught  me  all  I  know 

and  all  I  want  to  know. 

It's  him  I  should  be  grateful  to;    not 

you! 
ARNOLPHE:     Oh,  I  could  give  you  such  a  sounding 

smack ! 
AGNES:  All  right;  goon;  and  do  it! 

It  wouldn't  make  me  love  you  any  more. 
ARNOLPHE      (in  a  passion) : 

My  fingers  itch  to  beat  you ! 

And  everything  you  say,  and  do,  and 
are 

(then  bis  voice  breaks] 

makes  you  more  lovely  I 

And  I  love  you  more! 

And  more,  and  more,  and  more ! ! 

211 


ACT    THREE 


AGNES: 


ABKOLPHE: 


AGNES: 


Oh,  Women  may  be  wicked 

but  Men  are  fools ! 
Weak  fools! 
And  I'm  a  man! 

I  love  you  more  than  he 

— I've  known  you  so  much  longer! 

What  did  he  do,  to  gain  your  love  ? 

I'll  do  the  same ! 

He  gave  you  presents ! 

Well— what  of  that? 

I'll  give  you  better  ones! 

What  d'you  want?  Just  tell  me! 

Fine  clothes?  And  friends?  And  all  the 

life  of  Paris  ? 
Yours — for  the  asking! 
Don't  look  at  me,  like  that; 
without  a  smile! 
What  did  he  do  to  please  you  ? 

kissed  your  neck  and  arms 

and  so  will  II! 

(He  seizes  her  band;  she  withdraws) 

You  seize  your  hand  away! 

What  do  you  want? 

For  I'm  your  slave ! 

See !  I'm  on  my  knees ! 

Just  say  the  word ! 

I'll  beat  my  brains  out! 

Or  I'll  kiU  myself! 

Oh,  please  do  stop ! 

Why  should  you  kill  yourself? 

It's  all  so  silly! 

If  you're  my  skve 

I  am.  I  am.  I  am. 
(He  grovels  before  her) 

Then  take  me  back  to  Horace 

and  let  me  marry  him. 


212 


THE    SCHOOL    FOR    WIVES 

[For  a  moment  Arnolphe  stays  quite  still  where  he  Is  on  the 
floor;  then  struggles  to  his  feet.  He  is  quite  livid  with  rage.} 

ARNOLPHE:     This  is  insufferable!  (He  calls}  Alain!! 
You've   had   your   chance!     (He  calls 

again)  Alain!!! 
I'll  never  offer  you  another  thing. 

[Alain  appears.} 

Bring  round  the  carriage — to  the  back; 
and  put  the  luggage  in. 
Then    come    and    let    me    know    the 
minute  that  you're  ready. 

[Alain   hurries   out   thro''    the   kitchen.     Georgette    has 
appeared} 

During  the  journey  you're  to  guard  the 
girl! 

Don't  let  her  out  of  sight 

We  start  at  once. 

[There  is  a  sudden  loud  knocking  on  the  door} 

Now,  who — in  God's  name — is  that?? 
GEORGETTE  :  I  expect  its  him! 
ALAIN:  It  isn't. 

GEORGETTE:  Three  of 'em! 
ARNOLPHE:     Three!  D'you  know  'em? 
ALAIN  :  Not  from  Adam  1 


[More  knocking 


Don't    open  .  .  .    1*11  go  myself  and 
see! 

213 


ACT    THREE 

[He  runs  out  thro*  the  kitchen.  More  knocking.  .  .  . 
A.gms  begins  to  cry.  Georgette  goes  to  comfort  her^  and 
the  girl,  clinging  to  her,  sobs  in  her  arms.  .  .  .  More 
knocking.  'The  stage  becomes  dark.  Music,  which  continues, 
until  the  Lights  come  up.  In  the  street.  Three  men,, 
Chrysalde,  Oronte  and  Enrique  are  standing  at  the  front 
door.  .  .  .  Arnolpbe  appears  stealthily ,  from  the  opposite 
side  of  the  stage.,  watching  and  listening  but  keeping  out  of 
sight.} 

CHRYSALDE:  My  good  Enrique! 

Are  you  quite  sure  this  is  the  house  ? 
ENRIQUE:        Well  .  .  .  from   the  address   and  the 

description,  yes. 
CHRYSALDE:  I  think  you  must  be  wrong. 

I  know  the  man  who  owns  it. 
ORONTE:         Who? 
CHRYSALDE:  Arnolphe. 
ORONTE:*      Arnolphe!   Seigneur  Arnolphe  ?? 

Oh  no — you're  wrong  yourself; 

I  know  him  well. 

One  of  my  oldest  friends. 

Last  time  I  was  in  Paris, 

I  had  dinner  with  him 

at  his  house 

it  wasn't  here. 
CHRYSALDE:  He  has  other  houses. 

One  here  in   Paris — where  you   had 
dinner; 

another,  in  the  country; 

but  this  is  where  you'll  find  him. 

under  another  name. 
ORONTE  :         Another  name  ? 

What  do  you  mean  ? 

What  for?? 
CHRYSALDE:  He's  very  close  about  it. 

214 


THE    SCHOOL    FOR    WIVES 

Something  to  do  with  a  young  girl 

he  means  to  marry. 
ORONTE:         Marry! 

Arnolphe  ? 

A  young  girl — you  can't  be  serious ! 
CHRYSALDE:  Indeed  I  am. 
ORONTE:         But  he's  as  old  as  I  am! 

Even  older! 

Another  name! 

He  must  be  crazy! 

What's  he  call  himself? 

CHRYSALDE  i  He  told  me  .  .  .  but  I  can't  remember. 
ORONTE:         Then,  who  lives  here? 
CHRYSALDE:  The  girl. 

That's  why  he  bought  the  house. 

And  today,  I  think  it  is,  he  plans  to 

marry. 
ORONTE:         Well,  well,  well. 

We've  come  in  time  to  pull  his  leg, 

and  give  him  a  wedding-feast. 

Let's  knock  again. 

(He  does  .  .  .  then  turns  to  'Enrique] 

Enrique,    dear    fellow,    you've    been 
misinformed. 

These  aren't  the  two  we're  after. 
CHRYSALDE:  Strange  no  one  answers! 

He  keeps  two  servants;    and  the  girl 

herself. 
ENRIQUE  :        Here's  some  kind  of  garden,  at  the  back ; 

and  another  door. 

CHRYSALDE:  Let's  try  that.  There  must  be  someone 
in! 

]The  three  disappear. 

Arnolphe  ventures  out  towards  the  middle  of  the  stage — 

when  Horace  comes  quickly  from  the  other  direction^ 

215 


ACT    THREE 


HORACE  :        Seigneur  Arnolphe ! 

ARNOLPHE:     Horace! 

HORACE  :        Disaster ! !   Utter  disaster ! ! ! 

ARNOLPHE  :     What's  the  matter  now  ?  ?  ? 

HORACE:        Last  night,  I  returned  to  my  lodgings, 

walking  on  air 

to  find  my  father  waiting, 

with  a  man  Enrique 

a    childhood    friend;     and   fabulously 
rich 

he  has  a  daughter! 

I'm  to  marry  her! 

My  father's  adamant. 

I  wasn't  even  able  to  come  to  your 
house  this  morning. 

This  man  Enrique — rolling  in  money 

and  thinking  he  owns  the  world, 

insisted  on  coming  in  this  direction, 

to  find  some  house  or  other; 

and  I  had  to  come  with  them. 

But,  as  we  passed  your  Notary, 

I  slipt  inside,  to  try  and  get  a  message  to 
you. 

Oh,  Seigneur  Arnolphe! 

You'll  intercede  for  me? 

You  won't  see  Agnes  snatched  away 
from  me 

under  your  very  nose  ? 
ARNOLPHE:     You  can  rely  on  me.. 
HORACE:        I  knew  I  could!  I  knew! 

\Chrysalde  and  Oronte,  and  later  "Enrique  reappear^ 

CHRYSALDE:  Why,  there  he  is ! 

ORONTE          (going  quickly  to  Arnolphe;    and  greeting 
him  effusively): 

216 


THE    SCHOOL    FOR    WIVES 


ARNOLPHE : 
ORONTE: 


ARNOLPHE: 


HORACE : 


ARNOLPHE : 


ORONTE: 
ARNOLPHE : 

HORACE 

ARNOLPHE : 

HORACE: 
ARNOLPHE : 


My  dear  old  friend! 

Oronte!   Dear  fellow !   But  I'm  glad  to 

see  you! 

And  what  a  day  to  choose 
to  run  across  you  so! 
Your  wedding-day ! 
You  to  be  married — at  your  age ! 
I'm  proud  of  you ! 
How  did  you  know? 
Oh,  Chrysalde  has  told  you. 
Yes.  I  and  my  future  wife 
start  for  the  country  in  a  moment's  time. 
Another  minute,  and  you'd  have  missed 

us. 

Seigneur  Arnolphe! 
You  to  be  married! 
But  you  never  mentioned  it! 
No.    You  had  other  things  to  think 

about! 

(Turning  to  Oronte) 
Talking  of  getting  married, 
I  hear  you  pkn  a  marriage  for  your  son. 
And  the  young  dog  objects. 
Oh,  but  that's  very  wrong! 
(utterly  taken  abacfe) :  Wrong  ?  ? 
There's  nothing  I  feel  more  passionately 

about  than  filial  duty ! 
But,  Seigneur  Arnolphe  !- 


A  son  must  obey  his  father! 

And  in  everything! 

This  Modern  Cult  of  Disobedience 

must  be  stamped  out. 
CHRYSALDE:  Oh  come,  my  dear  fellow! 

Force  a  young  man  to  marry, 

and  against  his  will  ? 
ARNOLPHE:     You  take  the  rebel's  part! 


217 


ACT    THREE 

I  might  have  known  it. 

Irresponsible! 

This  refusal  of  the  young 

to  recognise  Authority 

threatens  Society. 

Horace  !   Obey  your  father  ! 

It's  your  Duty  ! 

(To  Oronte) 

And  you,  old  friend, 

insist  on  his  Obedience. 

It's  your  Duty,  too  I 

And  doing  your  duty,  both  of  you  ! 

you'll  find  happiness  - 

[Georgette  appears  in  a  great  state  of  excitement  from  the 


GEORGETTE      (loudly) 

Master,  what  shall  I  do  ? 
The  girl's  run  mad. 
I  can't  keep  hold  of  her. 
She  wants  to  get  away! 

ARNOLPHE      (taken  aback;  but  recovering  himself}  : 
See  how  it  is  with  me  ! 
So  eager  is  the  girl  I'm  going  to  marry, 
there's  no  restraining  her! 
You  heard  ? 

"  She  wants  to  get  away," 
into  my  coach, 
into  the  country, 
into  my  arms  - 

[Agnes  suddenly  comes  rushing  from   the   house;    and 
straight  into  the  arms  of  Horace^ 

AGNES  :  Horace,  my  love  ! 

218 


THE    SCHOOL    FOR    WIVES 


HORACE          (receiving  her}  : 

My  darling,  darling  girl! 
ORONTE:         In  Heaven's  Name  —  what's  this? 
ARNOLPHE:     Keep  calm!   Don't  lose  your  head! 

I'll  deal  with  this! 

(To  the  two  young  people.,  locked  in  each 

other's  arms] 

That's  right,  my  dear  —  say  your  good 

byes  to  him. 

And  you,  young  fellow  —  take  a  last 
farewell. 

[Alain  has  appeared;   and  is  making  signs  to  Arnolphe^ 
who  doesn't  see 


ORONTE 


ALAIN: 
ORONTE: 
ALAIN: 
HORACE 


ALAIN: 

CHRYSALDE: 

ENRIQUE 

ORONTE: 
ENRIQUE: 


(to  Alain)  : 

What  is  it! 

What  d'you  want?? 

A  word  with  my  master. 

Your  master? 

Monsieur  La  Souche. 

(extricating  himself  from  Agnes)  : 

La  Souche? 

Did  I  hear  La  Souche  ? 

(To  Alain} 

Is  this  man  called  La  Souche  ? 

Well,  it's  'is  name. 

Yes!  Thafs  the  name  !  La  Souche! 

(emergingunexpectedly  from  the  background)  : 

Then  you're  the  man  I  want  ! 

Enrique,  dear  fellow,  can  you  unravel 

me  this  mystery? 
Indeed  I  can. 
And  there's  no  mystery! 
Some  fifteen  years  ago, 
I  had  to  go  on  business  to  America. 


219 


HORACE 


ENRIQUE 


ACT    THREE 

My  wife  came  with  me. 

But  for  our  baby  girl, 

she  feared  the  long,  uncertain,  perilous 

weeks  at  sea. 
Believing  we  should  be  away  only  a 

year  or  less, 

we  found  a  woman  we  could  trust 
and  left  our  child  with  her. 
But  in  America, 
my  wife  died  of  a  fever, 
and  the  business  failed 
and  I  was  alone;   with  nothing! 
But  as  with  awful  suddenness 
the  Fates  had  taken  all  that  I  had, 
with  equal  wantonness 
they  gave  me  back  more  than  I  needed. 
By  a  first  stroke  of  luck 
I  found  myself  with  money  in  my  purse : 

with  which 

caring  little  whether  I  won  or  lost 

I  speculated. 

And  won;  and  won;  and  won. 

And  so  I  hastened  home 

sought  out  the  woman, 

and  learned  from  her 

she'd  given  my  daughter  to  a  man  La 

Souche. 
(to  Arnolphe) : 
Oh  what  hypocrisy! 
What  cunning!  What  deceit! 
You  nauseating  villain! 
(to  Arnolphe] : 

Sir,  let  me  shake  your  hand! 
Fve  much  to  thank  you  for ! ! 
The  woman  told  me  how  you'd  cared 

for  her, 

220 


THE    SCHOOL    FOR    WIVES 

and  everything  she  has,  she  owes  to  you. 

Now,  bring  her  to  me. 

Oh,  my  eyes  ache 

to  see  the  only  living  thing 

that  is  some  part  of  me! 

[Then  Agnes  walks  to  him;    and  stands  in  front  of  him; 
and  looks  him  up  and  down.} 

AGNES  :  Fve  often  heard  the  story, 

how  my  parents  went  to  America  - 

and  disappeared! 
ENRIQUE  :        You  ! 

Can  you  be  the  baby  that  I  left  asleep  ! 

Indeed  you  are! 

Your  mother's  very  image! 
AGNES:  You  say  she's  dead. 

ENRIQUE:        She  lives  in  my  heart  - 

and  here.  .  .  . 

[He  takes  a  locket  and  holds  it  out  to  Agnes  \  who  looks  at 

//.] 

AGNES  (in  wonder]  : 

I'm  looking  at  myself!  !  .  .  . 

You  were  a  legend  to  me  - 

my  mother  and  my  father  - 

I  never  believed  in  you! 

But  this  is  my  mother's  picture  - 

(she   raises  her  eyes  from  the   locket  to 

Enrique) 

and  you're  my  father! 
ENRIQUE         (taking  her  in  his  arms)  : 

My  dear!   My  child! 

HORACE  :        But  if  she's  your  daughter  !  !  !  - 
ENRIQUE:        Yes,  my  boy,  take  her! 

I'm  just  in  time  to  give  her  to  you; 


221 


ACT    THREE 


and  with  the  greater  part  of  all  my 
fortune 

which  is  immense ! ! 
ORONTE  :         I  still  don't  understand ! 

(To  Horace) 

Do  you  know  the  girl  ?  ? 
HORACE  :         This  man,  La  Souche'll  tell  you ! 
CHRYSALDE:  No.  I'll  not  have  that! 

La  Souche  is  dead ! 

And  my  old  friend  Arnolphe 

knows  nothing  of  it ! 

(To  Horace) 

You  have  the  girl;  at  least  be  generous 

(To  Arnolphe) 

Oh !  you're  a  lucky  man ! 
ARNOLPHE:     Eh?  What's  that?  Me?  Lucky! 
CHRYSALDE:  There's  one  thing  spoils  your  life; 

and  only  one 

This  haunting,  obsessing  fear  of  being 

deceived; 

of  being  made  a  fool  of; 

of  wearing  your  cuckold's  horns. 

And  there's  only  one  way  to  deal  with 
that 

to  eliminate  the  risk 

not  to  get  married!! 

My  dear  old  friend, 

accept  my  congratulations ! 
HORACE:        And  mine! 
ORONTE  :         And  mine ! 
ENRIQUE  :       And  mine ! 

[And  as  they  gather  round  him,  shaking  hit  hands;  and 
banging  him  on  the  back;  and  as  Horace  and  Agnes 
embrace ] 

The  Curtain  comes  down 


MEET  A  BODY 

by 

FRANK  LAUNDER  and 
SIDNEY  GILLIAT 


Copyright  1954  by  Frank  Launder  and  Sidney  Gilliat 


Applications  for  the  performance  of  this  play  by  amateurs 
must  be  made  to  Samuel  French  Ltd.,  26  Southampton 
Street,  Strand,  London,  W.C.z.  Applications  for  the 
performance  of  this  play  by  professionals  must  be  made  to 
Christopher  Mann  Management  Ltd,,  140  'Park  Lane, 
London,  W.i.  No  performance  may  take  place  unless  'a 
licence  has  been  obtained. 


The  original  version  of  Meet  A  Body,  under  the  title 
of  The  Body  Was  Well  Nourished,  was  presented  at 
the  Lyric  Theatre,  London.,  on  August  I4th,  1940; 
its  run  was  cut  short  by  the  "  blitz."  The  revised 
version,  Meet  A  Body,  was  staged  as  an  "  improbable 
adventure,"  by  Laurence  Olivier  Productions  Ltd.,, 
at  the  Duke  of  York's  Theatre,  London,  on  July 
2ist,  1954.  The  cast  was  as  follows: 

REGINALD  wiLLOUGHBY-pRATT   William  Kendall 

ALAN  Patrick  Cargill 

WILLIAM  Brian  Reece 

ANN  Joy  Shelton 

MR.   HAWKINS  Duncan'Lewis 

SERGEANT  Noel  Cohman 

WINIFRED  Christine  Pol  Ion 

LANDLORD  ]ulien  Mitchell 

MR.   BOUGHTFLOWER  Cyril  Chamberlain 

L  i  L Y  Barbara  Leigh 

SIR   GREGORY  UPSHOTT  Llojd  Pearson 

JOAN  WOOD  Dorothy  Gordon 

Directed  by  Henry  Kendall 
Sets  designed  by  Hal  Henshaw 


CHARACTERS 

(in  order  of  their  appearance) 


REGINALD    WILLOU  GHBY-PRATT 

ALAN    MONTAGUE 

WILLIAM 

ANN 

MR.   HAWKINS 

SERGEANT 

MRS.  BOSTOCK'S  VOICE 

LANDLORD 

LILY 

MR.  BOUGHTFLOWER 

SIR  GREGORY  UPSHOTT 

JOAN  WOOD 

RADIO  ANNOUNCER'S  VOICE 


SCENES 

PROLOGUE 

Scene:   A  spotlight  is  thrown  on  a  cameo  of  a  B.B.C. 
Announcer. 

ACT   ONE 

Scene:    The  curtain  rises  on  the  lounge  of  a  newly  built 

little  house  in  St.  John's  Wood.    If  is  an  early  evening  in 

May. 

ACT  TWO 

SCENE  i.  Scene:  The  lounge  of  the  house  next  door, 
immediately  after  the  end  of  Act  One. 

SCENE  2.  Scene:  The  Lounge,  Appleby.  The  same  as 
Act  One. 

ACT  THREE 

Scene:  The  Ear  'Parlour  of  the  Green  Man,  Newr/ffi. 
Time:  The  same  night,  10.20  p.m. 


PROLOGUE 


A  spotlight  is  thrown  on  a  cameo  of  a  J5.JB.C.  announcer, 
Reginald  Willoughby-Pratt.  His  one  distinctive  feature  is  a 
moustache  which,  in  the  modern  fashion,  Inclines  towards  the 
fully-fledged,  but  stops  halfway  before  it  can  interfere 
seriously  with  his  vocation. 

REGINALD:  .  .  .  and  depended,  he  said,  on  the 
decision  of  the  new  French  Government,  if — and 
when — it  was  formed. 

At  a  luncheon  in  the  City  today,  Sir  Gregory  Upshott, 
the  recently  appointed  Special  Envoy  to  the  Middle 
East,  told  the  guests  of  his  high  hopes  for  his  forth 
coming  mission.  The  Government  had  appealed 
to  him  to  come  out  of  retirement  and  put  to  use  once 
again  his  lifelong  experience  of  peoples,  personalities 
and  conditions  in  the  Middle  East. 

[Reginald  turns  away  from  the  microphone  to  indulge  in  a 
slight  fit  of  coughing.} 

(Leaning  into  microphone.}  I  beg  your  pardon.  (Re 
suming  reading  from  script.}  His  object  was  to  persuade 
the  countries  in  that  vital  strategic  area  that  it  was 
either  a  question  of  hanging  together  or  hanging 
separately.  Certain  minority  elements  there  had 
threatened  to  take  steps,  however  extreme,  that 
might  be  necessary  to  defeat  the  object  of  his  mission. 
Sir  Gregory  said  that  he  remained  quite  unintimate, 
and.  .  .  . 

[Reginald  breaks  off,  studies  his  script  for  a  moment  and 
leans  to  the  microphone^ 

I'll  read  that  again.  Sir  Gregory  said  that  he  remained 
quite  unintimidated,  and  concluded  by  remarking  that 

227 


PROLOGUE 

it  was  a  platitude,  but  a  true  one,  to  say  that  in  the 
common  interest  we  must  all  unite.  The  moment 
of  impact  might  not  be  far  ahead,  and  if  he  could  help 
to  achieve  a  completely  new  outlook,  then  his  task 
would  be  done,  and  he  would  be  able  to  disappear, 
this  time  finally,  from  the  public  scene.  (Intimately,  to 
microphone.}  A  recording  of  Sir  Gregory* s  speech 
will  be  broadcast  in  the  Home  Service  at  10.45  ^s 
evening. 

At  question  time  in  the  house  today  the  Prime 
Minister  denied  that  the  cuts  in  the  Army,  Navy  and 
Air  Force  estimates  had  anything  to  do  with  the 
Government's  entry  into  the  film  business. 

[He  continues  reading  as  the  lights  black  out  and  the  Curtain 
falls.} 


228 


ACT   ONE 

The  curtain  rises  on  the  lounge  of  a  newly  built  little  bouse  in 
St.  John's  Wood.  A.  bouse  of  modern  design — as  the 
Instate  Agent  terms  //,  "  A  veritable  suntrap  ". 

The  furniture  too,  is  modern  and  almost  painfully  brand 
new,  A  sharp  eje  might  perhaps  detect  a  certain  tenta- 
tivemss  in  the  arrangement  of  the  pieces — an  i?npression 
reinforced  by  the  presence  of  (for  instance)  numerous  piles 
of  books  tied  tip  with  string  on  the  floor  and  an  odd  packing 
case  or  so  in  the  corner. 

Buf,  apart  from  this,  there  is  evidence  of  a  disturbance  of  a 
rather  different  character;  one  edge  of  a  rug  is  turned  back,, 
a  chair  is  lying  over-turned,  and  a  cushion  has  fallen  from 
the  sofa  on  to  the  floor.  The  curtains  on  the  windows  are 
closed. 

It  is  6.30  in  the  evening  in  May. 

After  a  moment.,  Montague.,  a  dark,,  compact  little  man 
(of  whom  it  is  possibly  sufficient  to  say  that  he  has  the  look 
of  a  rather  intense  shop  steward),  enters  from  door  right. 
His  cuffs  are  turned  back  and  he  is  wiping  his  hands  on  a 
towel.  He  is  breathing  fast  and  altogether  his  manner 
certainly  suggests  that  he  has  just  suffered  a  considerable 
shock  to  his  nervous  system  and  is  anxious  to  clear  out  as 
soon  as  possible.  In  the  distance.,  a  church  clock  strikes  the 
half  hour. 

Hurriedly s  he  picks  up  the  cushion;  sets  the  chair  back  on 
its  legs.  He  kicks  the  rug  with  his  foot  to  straighten  it, 
puts  on  his  jacket,  and  opens  the  curtains.  Then  he  catches 
sight  of  a  stain  on  the  carpet:  muttering,  he  bends  down  and 
rubs  the  stain  vigorously  with  his  towel.  He  steps  back  to 
study  bis  work,  then  grabs  his  hat,  hurrying  to  the  front 
door.  He  opens  it,  then  sees  be  has  left  the  towel  in  view, 

229 


ACT    ONE 

and  hurries  back  and  puts  it  in  his  pocket.  As  be  takes  a 
final  look  round  the  room.,  his  eyes  rest  on  a  bottle  of 
whisky  on  the  small  table.  He  hesitates^  then  crosses — 
picks  up  the  bottle  >  pours  out  a  drink,  and  swallows  it  down 
with  a  gulp. 

As  he  does  so.,  the  front  door  is  pushed  slowly  open  and  the 
head  of  a  young  man.,  William,,  appears  round  it.  He  is 
carrying  a  long  wooden  case  which  he  puts  down  left  of  door. 

WILLIAM:  Anybody  at  home? 
[Montague  gasps  and  swivels  round.} 

(Sitting  him.}  Ah,  good  evening. 
MONTAGUE:  What  .  .  .  what  is  it? 
WILLIAM  (moving  left  to  Montague) :  I  have  an  appoint 
ment  with  Mrs.  Bostock. 
MONTAGUE:  Mrs.  .  .  .  Bostock? 
WILLIAM:  That's  it.  "  Windy  Ridge  ",  Hilcot  Road, 
St.  John's  Wood — correct  I  think? 
MONTAGUE  :  What  ?    (Then  his  face  clears  as  if  this  has 
given  him  the  answer  to  the  problem?)   Yes.    Of  course. 
That's  right.  Windy  Ridge. 
WILLIAM:  Splendid. 

[He  promptly  closes  the  front  door.} 

MONTAGUE  (quickly) :  She's  out. 

WILLIAM:  What? 

MONTAGUE:  Mrs.  Bostock's  out. 

[He  moves  towards  kztchen.] 

WILLIAM:  But  she  asked  me  to  call  at  6.30. 
MONTAGUE  ;  She  must  have  overlooked  it — that's  it — 

230 


MEET    A    BODY 

she'll  have  forgotten.  (Gaining  confidence.)  She  went 
out  at  about  six,  said  she  was  going  to  the  pictures. 
WILLIAM:  Ah,  well!  One  can't  compete  with 
Gregory  Peck. 

[He  opens  the  case  and  takes  out  the  rubber  ///£<?.] 

MONTAGUE  (suddenly  apprehensive):  Did  you  ring  the 

bell? 

WILLIAM  (shakes  his  head  smilingly) :  I'm  sorry  if  I  came 

in  unheralded,  so  to  speak,  but  the  door  was  open, 

and  in  my  job  a  foot  in  the  door  is  worth  two  on  the 

step.    You  see  I  represent  the  Little  Wizard  of  the 

Carpet. 

MONTAGUE:  The  what? 

WILLIAM:  I  telephoned  Mrs.  Bostock  and  arranged 

the  demonstration.  My  card. 

[He  hands  Montague  his  business  card.  Montague  looks  at 
it,  reacting  nith  some  relief^ 

MONTAGUE:  Oh,  I  see.   You're  a  vacuum  cleaner. 
WILLIAM:  Well  not  incarnate,  sir.    Just  the  human 
agency.  (He  takes  the  card  back.}  Pardon  me — it's  the 
only  one  I've  got. 
MONTAGUE:  I'll  tell  Mrs.  Bostock  you  called. 

[He  moves  towards  the  front  door.} 

Sorry  you've  wasted  a  visit — how  about  the  same 

time  tomorrow? 

WILLIAM:  Please    don't   bother   to    apologise,    Mr. 

Bostock, 

MONTAGUE:  Eh? 

WILLIAM:  It  is  Mr.  Bostock,  I  take  it? 

MONTAGUE:  Yes,  yes.   Of  course. 

WILLIAM  (shutting  the  front  door) :  Good.  Good.  Then 

231 


ACT    ONE 

I  couldn't  have  hoped  for  a  happier  accident.  (He 
takes  the  handle  out  of  the  case.} 

MONTAGUE  (hastily):  I'm  sorry  but  I'm  afraid  I'm 
very  busy  just  now. 

WILLIAM:  This  is  the  very  machine  for  the  busy 
man.  The  whole  thing  assembles  in  twenty-five 
seconds.  .  .  .  (The  motor  jams  in  the  case,  he  pulls 
again.)  ...  if  I  can  get  it  out. 
MONTAGUE:  I  haven't  the  time  to  wait  while.  .  .  . 
WILLIAM:  May  I  just  explain?  The  ordinary  cleaner 
sweeps  as  it  cleans,  the  superior  cleaner  beats  as  it 
sweeps  as  it  cleans  .  .  ,  but  the  Electro-Broom,  the 
Little  Wizard  of  the  Carpet,  disinfects  as  it  beats  as  it 
sweeps  as  it  cleans — thanks  to  our  own  inbuilt 
germicidal  insecticide.  Have  you  any  idea  what  that 
carpet  hides,  sir?  Millions  of  tiny  germs.  I  won't  go 
into  what  they're  doing  but  if  they're  allowed  to 
increase  in  numbers,  what  do  you  think  will  happen  ? 
MONTAGUE:  I've  no  idea,  but.  .  .  . 
WILLIAM:  Now,  we  have  some  rather  cunning 
gadgets  here,  sir.  (He  takes  each  one  out  of  the  box  in 
turn?)  This  is  for  getting  into  small  places  and  clean 
ing  gentlemen's  hats  .  .  .  this  is  for  slightly  bigger 
pkces  and — (running  the  attachment  over  Montague's 
suit) — clea.nf.ng  gentlemen's  suits  .  .  .  this  is  for 

krger  pkces  and  carpets,  and  so  on  .  .  .  and  this 

(He  breaks  off,  looking  pulled.)  Excuse  me,  sir.  (He 
picks  up  the  pamphlet  and  consults  it.)  Oh  yes — (he 
laughs) — how  silly  of  me! 

MONTAGUE  (forcing  a  ghastly  smile):  I'm  sure  Mrs. 
Bostock  will  be  very  interested — tomorrow. 
WILLIAM:  While  I'm  assembling  it  you  might  care 
to  gknce  at  this  folder  giving  five  unreasonable 
answers — I  mean  unanswerable  reasons  why  you 
should  choose  our  machine  in  preference  to  any  other. 
MONTAGUE  :  I've  said  I'm  not  interested. 

232 


MEET    A    BODY 

WILLIAM  :  But  surely,  sir,  when  it  comes  to  a  question 
of  how  your  money's  spent  you  must  be  interested, 
if  only  morbidly. 

MONTAGUE  :  I  tell  you  I'm  not  interested  in  spending 
it  on  a  vacuum  cleaner. 

[He  crosses  nervously  to  the  window  J\ 

WILLIAM:  I  beg  your  pardon,  sir,  but  I  think  you 
said  you  were  willing  to  let  Mrs.  Bostock  see  it 
tomorrow. 

MONTAGUE:  It  doesn't  matter  what  I  said. 
WILLIAM:  I'm  only  too  afraid  you're  right.  Once  she 
sets  eyes  on  it — you  are — forgive  the  expression — a 
dead  duck. 

MONTAGUE:  Will  you  pack  that  thing  up  and  go  I 
WILLIAM  :  At  times  like  this  I  ask  myself  what  would 
be  the  point  of  having  learnt  how  to  overcome  sales 
resistance  if  there  were  no  sales  resistance  to  over 
come.  .  .  .  Expecting  somebody? 

[He  has  noticed  that  Montague  Is  looking  out  of  the  window^ 
MONTAGUE:  No. 

[He  looks  at  William  in  despair  and  gives  the  whole  thing 
up.} 

How  long  will  you  be  ? 

WILLIAM:  The  Electro-Broom  is  noted  for  its 
extreme  ease  and  rapidity  of  assembly  ...  in  fact 
it  almost  assembles  itself  .  .  .  (struggling  with  if) 
— when — you — understand — it.  I've  only  been  at 
this  a  week.  (Handing  the  body  of  the  machine  to  Monta 
gue?)  Look,  sir,  would  you  mind  giving  me  a  hand 
with  this  ?  It's  a  perfect  devil  until  you  get  used  to  it. 

233 


ACT    ONE 

(He  connects  the  tube.}   You  see,  the  whole  thing  fits 

together.    ( The  tube  promptly  falls  out?)    Oh ! 

MONTAGUE  (looks  at  him  uneasily) :  .  .  .  I've  got  some 
thing  to  sort  out  in  the  next  room.   I  won't  be  a 
minute.  (He  puts  the  machine  on  the  tabled) 
WILLIAM:  Fine. 

[Montague  exits  right.] 

I'm  glad  I  persuaded  you.  Seriously  this  isn't  a  bad 
little  machine  at  all.  If  you  know  anything  about  it. 

[He  finishes  assembling  //.] 

Right,  that's  fixed  it.  Can  you  hear  me  Mr.  Bostock  ? 
MONTAGUE  (off) ".  Yes.  All  right. 
WILLIAM  (shouting):  I'm  going  to  put  down  a  layer 
of  soot  and  one  of  sand.  Yes,  the  same  old  routine. 
Rather  corny  you  might  say  but  I  can't  persuade  the 
firm  to  change  it.  I'm  putting  it  on  the  hearth  here. 
No  need  to  worry — ten  seconds  and  it's  in  the  bag. 
(He  laughs.}  Now  all  we've  got  to  do  is  plug  it  in. 
Where's  the  point?  .  .  . 

[Having  wandered  about  the  room  with  the  cleaner  kad> 
frying  to  find  the  point \  he  now  locates  it  on  the  wall 'beside 
the  fireplace  and  plugs  in.] 

WILLIAM:  Ah,  there  it  is.  This  reminds  me  of  a 
rather  dim  colleague  of  mine.  He  smothered  a  new 
carpet  with  soot  and  then  actually  found  there  was  no 
electricity  laid  on.  He  took  a  poor  view  of  it  when  we 
laughed  ourselves  silly  but 

[Laughing,  he  switches  on  the  plug  and  clicks  over  the  switch 
on  the  cleaner  itself.  Nothing  happens.  He  repeats  the 

Z34 


MEET    A    BODY 

acthn.  Still  nothing  happens.  He  bends  down  and  examines 
the  plug.  He  switches  on  the  electric  light y  but  here  too 
nothing  happens.  Crestfallen,  he  surveys  the  damage  and 
then  cou^s  and  looks  up  apprehensively  towards  the 
kitchen.} 

Oh  ...  Mr.  Bostock. 

[No  reply.   He  crosses  to  the  kitchen  door.} 

You  remember  that  silly  fellow  I  was  telling  you 
about  ?  ]Mr.  Bostock,  have  you  got  a  minute.  ,  .  . 

[Disappearing  Into  the  kitchen} 

Why  didn't  you  tell  me  there  was  no  electricity? 

[Slight  pause.} 

(Off.}  Mr.  Bostock!  Where  are  you? 

\WiIIiam  reappears  looking  extremely  ptz&led  and  carrying 
Montague's  bowler  bat,  which  he  examines  dubiously,  and 
lays  on  the  back  of  the  sofa.} 

Mr.  Bostock! 

[He  goes  up  the  stairs  out  of  sight.} 

Mr.  Bostock!  (Off.}  Hello  there! 

[A.  moment  or  two  later  he  comes  down  again} 

That's  funny.  .  .  . 

[He  goes  to  the  window  to  see  ij 'Montague  is  in  the  road  and 


ACT    ONE 


on  the  way  he  notices  the  mark  on  the  carpet  left,  pauses  to 
give  it  a  curious  look,  then  bends  do:m  and  dabs  his  finger 
on  it.  He  lifts  his  finger  up.  looks  at  it,  and  whistles.  He 
runs  his  hand  up  the  leg  of  the  piano  and  stands  up  with  a 
crj  of  alarm.,  wiping  blood  off  his  fingers.  He  glances 
nervously  round  the  room,  cautiously  lifts  the  dust  sheet  on 
the  table  and  peers  underneath.  Finding  nothing,  he  makes 
for  the  front  door  and  pulls  up  as  he  spots  a  cupboard  in  the 
wall.  He  goes  tip  to  it,  hesitates,  and  then  summoning  up  his 
courage,,  jerks  open  the  door.  A  mop  falls  out.  William 
gives  a  shout,  pushes  it  back  and  retires  hurriedly  to  the 
settee.  This  gives  him  an  idea  and  he  cautiously  looks  under 
the  cushions,  and  prods  the  sofa.  Then  he  bends  down  and 
peers  under  the  settee.  He  pulls  out  an  umbrella  from 
underneath.  Going  down  more  or  less  flat,  he  searches 
underneath  the  settee  and  reaches  as  far  as  he  can  stretch, 
feeling  with  his  hand. 

Meanwhile,  the  front  door  has  opened  quickly,  a  girl 
appears,  and  carrying  a  number  of  parcels  including  a  long 
modiste's  box,  she  takes  her  key  out  of  the  lock,  closes  the 
door  and  walks  in,  to  be  greeted  by  the  sight  of  William 
grovelling  by  the  settee.  Ann  gives  a  scream.  William 
looks  up  startled.] 

ANN:  Who  are  you?  What  are  you  doing  here? 
WILLIAM:  Oh — good  evening. 
ANN:  What  are  you  doing  down  there? 
WILLIAM:  Rescuing  an  umbrella. 

[He  shows  her  the  umbrella^ 

ANN:  Who  are  you? 

WILLIAM:  Yes.   H'm? 

ANN:  I  said.   Who  are  you? 

WILLIAM:  I  represent  the  Little  Wizard  of  the  Carpet. 

ANN:  What? 

236 


MEET    A    BODY 

WILLIAM:  You  asked  me  to  call  at  6.30 — remember? 
ANN:  I  did? 

WILLIAM:  That's  right.  You  are  Mrs.  Bostock,  I  take 
it. 

ANN:  No. 
WILLIAM:  No? 
ANN:  No. 

WILLIAM  :  Oh.  .  .  .  Then   of  course  you  wouldn't 
know.  I  made  an  appointment  with  Mrs.  Bostock. 
ANN:  \Tho  is  Mrs.  Bostock? 
WILLAIM:  Don't  you  know? 
ANN:  I've  never  heard  of  her  in  my  life. 
WILLIAM  :  But  she  asked  me  to  call  here  and  demon 
strate  a  vacuum  cleaner. 

ANN  (coldly)*  I?m  afraid  you've  come  to  the  wrong 
house. 

WILLIAM:  Oh3  no.  I  took  down  the  address. 
ANN:  Which  house  did  you  want? 
WILLIAM:  "  Windy  Ridge  ". 
ANN:  Well,  this  is  "  Appleby  ". 

[She  begins  to  take  off  her  coat.] 

WILLIAM:  Oh,  I  see  what's  happened.    You\t  come 

to  the  wrong  house. 

ANN  :  Don't  be  absurd.  You  think  I  don't  know  my 

own  house  when  I  see  it? 

WILLIAM  :  Your  house  ? 

ANN:  Yes. 

WILLIAM:  Are  you  sure? 

ANN:  Of  course  I'm  sure.    I  told  you,  I  live  here 

myself — at  least,  I'll  start  doing  so  next  month. 

\Sbe  puts  coat  on  window  seat.] 

WILLIAM  :  I  can  see  how  it  happened.  All  the  houses 
on  this  side  of  the  road  are  exactly  alike. 


ACT    ONE 

ANN  :  Do  you  think  I  don't  know  my  own  furniture 
when  I  see  it?  I  got  that  table  at  HeaPs  —  it  only 
came  yesterday  —  and  the  curtains,  and  the  settee,  and 
the—  OH! 

[She  has  seen  the  soot  and  sand  on  the  carpet.  She  wheels 
on  him  furiously^ 

Are  you  responsible  for  this  ? 

WILLIAM:  Only  indirectly.    You  see,  I  was  giving  a 

demonstration  and  Mr.  Bostock  omitted  to  tell  me 

there  was  no  electricity  kid  on. 

ANN:  You've  ruined  my  hearthrug. 

WILLIAM:  Are  you  sure  it's  your  rug? 

ANN:  Of  course  I  am.  I  tell  you,  this  is  "  Appleby  "  ! 

WILLIAM:  I'm  awfully  sorry  —  "  Windy  Ridge  ". 

ANN:  Have  you  been  drinking? 

WILLIAM:  I  regret  to  say  —  no. 

ANN  (controlling  herself  with  difficulty]  :  Well,  it's  easily 

settled.  (Moves  up  centre  to  door.}  The  name's  hanging 

over  the  door. 

WILLIAM:  Yes.   I  noticed  it  when  I  came  in. 

ANN:  Exactly  —  "  Appleby  ". 

WILLIAM:  "Windy  —  "  —  allow  me. 

[He  walks  past  her  to  the  front  door>  opens  it  and  stretches 
up  on  the  threshold  to  reach  over  the  top  of  the  porch 


Apart  from  the  fact  that  the  customer  is  always  right, 
I  very  much  dislike  having  to  prove  a  lady  wrong, 
especially  on  so  short  an  acquaintance,  but  I  think 
you'll  have  to  agree  with  me  once  and  for  all,  the 
name  is  definitely.  .  .  . 

[He  brings  down  into  view  one  of  those  detachable  house 
238 


MEET    A    BODY 

name  plates  which  are  suspended  by  a  win  for  unhooking, 
with  the  name  in  bold  letters.  William  breaks  off  as  he 
looks  at  the  name  plate.,  which  has  "  Appleby  "  on  it.} 

— "  Wind— elby  ". 

{Ann  looks  from  the  plate  to  him.  There  is  a  pregnant 
pause.} 

I'll  get  a  brush  and  sweep  that  up. 

\Thromng  the  nameplate  on  the  settee^  he  exits  into  the 
kitchen.  Ann  glowers  after  him  and  goes  over  to  the 
cleaner  and  wrenches  it  out  of  the  socket.] 

ANN  (shouting):  For  heaven's  sake,  don't  bother. 
You've  done  enough  damage  akeady.  Just  take  your 
wretched  cleaner  and  go.  (Coiling  up  the  cable.)  You 
blunder  into  the  wrong  house,  probably  the  worse 
for  drink,  you  deliberately  ruin  my  new  hearthrug — 
I  ought  to  call  the  police. 

[William  re-enters  carrying  brush  and  dustpan  and  looking 
serious] 

WILLIAM:  You're  right — you  ought. 
ANN:  What? 

WILLIAM  :  Call  in  the  police.  I'm  worried. 
ANN:  You're  worried. 

[Grabbing  dustpan  and  brush  in  alarm  as  he  begins  to 
sweep  up  rug.] 

Give  me  that,  you'll  only  rub  it  in. 

[Glaring  at  him.,  she  begins  to  sn<eep  vigorously.  William 
thoughtfully  picks  up  the  nameplate  from  the  settee] 

WILLIAM:  Just  suppose  this  really  is  "  Appleby  ". 
ANN  (loudly^.  Will  you  please  go? 

239 


ACT    ONE 

WILLIAM  :  This  Is  the  point — who  was  the  fellow  who 
let  me  in? 

ANN:  How  do  I  know?  (Suddenly  rising^  having  dust 
pan  on  floor.)  Did  someone  let  you  in  ?  Someone 
must  have! 

WILLIAM  (picking  up  Montague's  bowler):  Here's   his 
bowler.  He  left  it  behind. 
ANN:  You're  sure  it  isn't  yours? 

[He  puts  it  on.  It  is  much  too  small  for  him] 
WILLIAM  :  Well,  there  you  are. 
[He  turns  the  hat  upside  down.] 

Exhibit  A — one  gentleman's  bowler  hat,  size  6| — 

owner    evidently    suffers    from    dandruff.     (Sniffs.) 

Must  be  either  Denis  Compton  or  Robert  Beatty. 

ANN  :  That's  a  tremendous  help. 

WILLIAM:  It's  almost  all  we  have  to  go  on.    This — 

and  the  blood  on  the  carpet. 

ANN  (jumping):  What? 

WILLIAM  (pointing):  There. 

ANN:  Oh!!    (She  crosses  left  and  peers  at  it  cautiously^) 

Where  did  it  come  from? 

WILLIAM:  I  don't  know.   There's  some  more  on  the 

leg  of  the  piano. 

ANN:  Are  you  certain  it's  blood? 

WILLIAM:  I'm  afraid  so. 

ANN:  But  it  can't  be — not  here  in  St.  John's  Wood. 

WILLIAM:  Murders  have  to  happen  somewhere. 

ANN:  Murder? 

WILLIAM  :  Of  course,  that's  taking  an  extreme  view. 

[Ann  looks  about  her  fearfully] 

ANN:  You  haven't  found — anything,  have  you? 
240 


MEET    A    BODY 

WILLIAM:  Not  yet. 

ANN:  Why  didn't  you  tell  me  before? 

WILLIAM:  We  had  to  settle  where  the  hell  we  were 

first. 

ANN:  I'm  sure  there  must  be  some  perfectly  simple 

explanation  —  there  always  is. 

WILLIAM  :  Maybe.  Though  on  the  other  hand  —  well, 

never  mind,  let  it  go. 

[He  puts  on  his  hat  and  kneeling  starts  to  pack  the 
vacuum  cleaner  in  its  box.] 

After  all,  it's  only  a  theory  —  so  far. 

ANN  (stopping  him):  You're  not  going?    I  mean,  if 

anything  has  happened  I  ought  to  know  more  about 

it. 

WILLIAM:  Yes.   I  see  your  point. 

ANN  :  Do  you  really  think  anything  has  ? 

WILLIAM  :  I'm  bound  to  say  it  looks  like  it. 

ANN:  Oh  .  .  .  please    don't    go.     Won't    you    sit 

down? 

WILLIAM  :  Thank  you  very  much.    (Taking  out  packet 

of  cigarettes^)  Do  you  mind  if  I  smoke? 

ANN:  Of  course  not.  (Slight  pause.)  Well? 

WILLIAM  (lighting  his  cigarette):  I  don't  want  to  re 

open  a  painful  subject,  but  I'm  perfectly  certain  that 

the  name  over  the  door  read  "  Windy  Ridge  "  when 

I  first  got  here.  I  remember  a  scratch  on  the  paint. 

[During  this  Ann  hurriedly  picks  up  an  ashtray   and 
crosses  to  put  it  pointedly  beside  him.} 


ANN:  But  you've  just  seen.  It's  "  Appleby  ". 
WILLIAM:  "  Appleby  "     now.      Suppose     someone 
changed  them  over  ? 
ANN:  Why? 

241 


ACT    ONE 

WILLIAM  :  Let's  call  the  victim  X. 
ANN:  The  victim? 

WILLIAM  :  The  body.  The  corpse.  X  has  arranged  to 
call  on  someone  at  "  Windy  Ridge  ".  Somebody  else 
• — probably  the  man  who  let  me  in — (holds  up  bowler 
hat} — is  very  anxious  indeed  that  X  should  never 
get  there.  So  he  takes  this  (holding  up  name  plate)  and 
sticks  it  over  the  porch  of  "  Windy  Ridge  "  and 
brings  this  back  here.  He  then  lies  in  wait  in  this 
room  until  X  comes  along,  looking  for  the  real 
"  Windy  Ridge  ".  She  sees  the  name  over  the  door. 

ANN:  She? 

WILLIAM:  Exhibit  B.  The  victim's  umbrella,  lady's 
model.  .  .  .  Well,  Miss  X  sees  the  name  over  the 
door,  rings  the  bell,  and  he — Dandruff— lets  her  in. 
And  that,  madam,  is  how  you  came  by  your  bloody 
carpet. 

ANN  (shivering):  It  sounds  terribly  convincing. 
WILLIAM  :  Thank  you.   One  of  my  previous  occupa 
tions  was  writing  detective  stories. 
ANN  :  But  what  did  he  do  with — with  her  afterwards  ? 
WILLIAM:  We  don't  know  yet.  But  our  friend,  having 
disposed  of  Miss  X,  is  about  to  make  his  getaway 
when  an  unknown  factor  turns  up. 
ANN:  What's  that? 

WILLIAM:  Me.  He  doesn't  know  that  I  have  made  an 
appointment  with  Mrs.  Bostock.  So  without  know 
ing  it  I  find  myself  face  to  face  with  a  murderer.  His 
position  is  worse — he  finds  himself  face  to  face  with 
me.  I  try  to  sell  him  a  vacuum  cleaner — naturally  he 
doesn't  feel  like  one  at  the  moment.  His  nerve 
breaks,  he  makes  his  escape  by  the  back  door,  taking 
the  precaution  of  changing  back  the  name  plates  on 
the  way. 
ANN:  What  happened  then? 

242 


MEET    A    BODY 

WILLIAM:  I'm  afraid  the  picture  has  reached  the 
point  where  you  came  in.  It  fits,  doesn't  it  ? 

ANN:  Yes.  But  surely 

WILLIAM:  What  I  can't  understand  is  why  he  should 

choose  this  particular  house  to  do  it  in. 

ANN:  I'm  afraid  that  fits,  too.   You  see,  we  haven't 

occupied  it  yet. 

WILLIAM:  We? 

ANN  :  Myself  and  my  fiance. 

WILLIAM:  Oh! 

ANN:  We    shan't   be    living   here    until   after    our 

wedding. 

WILLIAM  :  How  refreshing. 

ANN  (coldly) :  I  meant  that  if  whoever  it  was  knew  the 

house  was  unoccupied,  he'd  think  he'd  be  perfectly 

safe. 

WILLIAM:  You've  hit  it.  He  was  relying  on  the  fact 

that  he  could  leave  her  here  undiscovered  for  days. 

ANN:  In  that  case,  she — Miss  X,  that  is ? 

WILLIAM  (rising  apprehensively) :  Cannot  be  far  away. 

ANN:  Oughtn't  we  to  call  the  police? 

WILLIAM:  Not   without   the   evidence.     Ridiculous 

though  it  may  seem  there's  just  the  possibility  that  I 

may  be  wrong.  I  have  a  romantic  streak  in  my  nature 

that  sometimes  leads  me  astray. 

ANN:  I  suppose  I  have,  too,  in  a  way. 

WILLIAM:  Really? 

ANN  (hopefully):  You  don't  think  we've  both  been 

led  astray? 

WILLIAM  :  Not  in  any  worthwhile  sense. 

[Avoiding  her  eye,  he  moves  away  and  starts  to  ferret  about.} 

ANN:  What  are  you  going  to  do? 

WILLIAM:  Search  this  room,  with  your  permission. 

You  take  your  side,  I'll  take  this.   Yell  if  you  find 

anything. 

243 


ACT    ONE 

ANN:  Don't  worry — I  will.   (She  brightens  as  a  thought 

strikes  her.)  She  might  have  got  out. 

WILLIAM  :  Out  of  what  ? 

ANN:  The  house.   Got  away. 

WILLIAM  :  It's  possible.   But  in  that  case,  one  would 

expect  to  find  a  trail  of  blood  to  the  window  or  the 

door.    Depending,   of  course,  on  the  nature  and 

situation  of  the  wound. 

ANN:  Don't. 

WILLIAM:  I'm  sorry.    At  one  time  I  used  to  be  a 

medical  student.    I  remember  once  in  the  cutting 

room 

ANN:  What?  I  thought  you  wrote  stories. 
WILLIAM:  That  was  a  spare  time  occupation.  .  .  . 
We  seem  to  have  drawn  a  blank  in  here. 

[He  suddenly  moves  right  towards  kitchen.} 

ANN:  Where  are  you  going? 

WILLIAM:  A  happy  thought  has  just  struck  me. 

ANN:  What? 

WILLIAM  :  She  might  be  in  the  fridge. 

[He  disappears.  Ann  shudders  and  looks  about  her  un 
happily.  She  hurries  fo  the  mantelpiece^  grabs  a  cigarette 
and  is  lighting  it  nervously  when  she  suddenly  starts  and 
looks  towards  the  door.  William  returns} 

WILLIAM:  She's  not  in  the  fridge.  .  .  .  What's  the 

matter? 

ANN  (gasping)-.  The  door.  .  .  .  Somebody's  trying  to 

get  in.   Supposing  he's  armed ! 

[William  turns  to  look  at  fhe  door  and  there  is  the  sound 
of  a  key  turning  in  the  lock.} 

WILLIAM:  Quick — behind  the  settee! 
244 


MEET    A    BODY 

[He  pulls  her  down  behind  the  settee.  The  next  moment  the 
door  opens  and  Reginald  enters — the  B.J3.C.  Awouncer  of 
the  opening.  He  is  dressed  with  extreme  care>  wearing  a 
howler  and  carrying  a  neatly  furled  umbrella.  Under  his 
arm  he  has  two  brown  paper  parcels >  a  picture  wrapped  in 
green  bai^e  and  a  large  envelope.  He  throws  the  envelope 
on  the  sofa,  crosses  to  the  piano  and  'lays  the  picture ',  bat 
and  umbrella  on  it.  The  two  parcels  he  puts  on  the  window 
seat.  "&£  turning  to  the  piano.,  he  catches  sight  of  William 
and  Ann.,  who  by  now  have  crept ^  on  all  fours,,  half -way  up 
the  stairs.} 

REGINALD:  Ann! 

ANN  (relieved) :  Reginald ! 

REGINALD:  Ann — what  does  this  mean? 

[Suddenly  becoming  aware  of  the  absurdity  of  their  position^ 
she  scrambles  to  her  feet  while  Reginald  stares^  open- 
mouthed^ 

ANN:  Oh,  Reginald,  you're  just  in  time! 

REGINALD:  So  it  appears.  Who  is  this  fellow ? 

ANN:  It's  Mr. — what  was  the  name? 

WILLIAM  :  Blake — William  Blake.  No  relation  to  the 

famous  admiral,  of  course.   You  remember  the  old 

song  about  Blake  tying  a  broom  to  the  mast  to  sweep 

the  Dutch  off  the  sea. 

ANN:  Except  that  it  was  Van  Tromp. 

WILLIAM  :  Van  Tromp  what  ? 

ANN:  Van  Tromp   fixed  the  brooin  to   his   mast. 

Blake  fixed  a  whip. 

WILLIAM:  No,  I'm  sure  you're  wrong  about  that. 

There's  an  old  song  about  it — (He  sings.)    "  Now 

Blake  was  an  admiral  brave  and  bold.  .  .  . 

REGINALD  (breaking  in):  Ann!  What  is  all  this? 

ANN    (to    William}:  This    is    my    fiance.     Reginald 

Willoughby-Pratt. 


ACT    ONE 

WILLIAM:  I  beg  your  pardon? 

ANN  (dearly) :  Reginald  Willoughby-Pratt. 

WILLIAM  (controlling  a  snigger) :  I  see. 

Reginald  turns  to  Ann.} 

REGINALD:  Ann,  I  am  still  waiting  for  your  explana 
tion. 
WILLIAM  :  May  I  explain  ?  I  came  here  to  demonstrate 

a  vacuum  cleaner  and 

REGINALD  :  That's  hardly  what  you  were  doing  when 

I  came  in. 

ANN  :  You  see,  Fd  forgotten  you  were  coming  over. 

REGINALD:  Apparently. 

ANN:  We  were  only  hiding,  Reginald. 

REGINALD  (startled):  Hiding?  From  me? 

ANN:  No — him. 

REGINALD:  Who? 

ANN:  Mr.  Bostock. 

WILLIAM:  Not   that   he's    really   Mr.    Bostock,    of 

course. 

ANN  :  Because  it's  the  wrong  house. 

WILLIAM:  That's  right. 

ANN  :  But  whoever  it  was,  we  think  he  did  it. 

WILLIAM:  At  least,  the  evidence  seems  to  point  to  it. 

ANN:  So  you  see,  that's  why. 

\Keginald  has  been  looking  from  one  to  the  other  as  if  he 
doubts  not  only  their  sanity^  but  his  own.] 

REGINALD  :  Have  you  gone  out  of  your  mind  ? 

ANN:  But  I've  just  told  you — there's  been  a  murder. 

REGINALD:  Murder?  Where? 

ANN:  Here,  we  think — that  is,  he  thinks, 

REGINALD  :  You  mean,  in  my  house  ? 

WILLIAM:  Yes. 

246 


MEET    A    BODY 

REGINALD:  Rot! 

ANN:  How   can   you   say   that   when   you   haven't 
heard  his  story  ? 
REGINALD:  Ann! 

ANN  (subsiding) :  I'm  sorry,  Reginald. 
REGINALD  (to    William}:  Now  could  we  have   one 
thing  at  a  time?   And  do  please  try  to  be  coherent. 
WILLIAM:  Well,  it  was  like  this.  I  made  an  appoint 
ment  with  Mrs.   Bostock  of  "  Windy  Ridge ".    I 
saw  the  name  over  this  door,  and.  .  .  . 
REGINALD:  But  this  is  not  "  Windy  Ridge  ". 
WILLIAM  :  If  you  don't  mind.   We've  exhausted  that 

topic.   The  door  was  open,  I  came  in 

ANN:  — and  found  blood  on  the  carpet! 

[Reginald  quickly  looks  around  the  carpet  ^\ 

REGINALD:  Blood!  Where? 

WILLIAM:  There.  And  there's  some  more  on  the  leg 

of  the  piano. 

ANN:  And  that's  not  all,  Reginald.  He  found  a  man 

here. 

WILLIAM  :  Pretending  to  be  Mr.  Bostock. 

REGINALD:  Bostock? 

ANN  (excitedly)'.  He  wasn't  actually  Mr.  Bostock,  of 

course,  because  the  real  Mr.  Bostock  would  be  Mrs. 

Bostock's   husband,   if  she   has    one   alive,   which 

naturally  we  don't  know  as  we've  never  met  her,  but 

she  might  have,  in  which  case  there  would  be  two  of 

them,  but  only  one  real  one. 

REGINALD  (who  seems  to  be  stunned  by  this] :  I  don't  feel  I 

can  bring  myself  to  ask  you  to  say  that  again,  Ann. 

ANN:  But  Reginald,  it's  frightfully  important! 

REGINALD  (to  Ann) :  Of  course,  my  dear.  Now  don't 

you  think  you  ought  to  sit  down  for  a  while  and  read 

a  magazine  or  something?   (To  William?)   Please  go 

on. 


ACT    ONE 

WILLIAM:  The  man  disappeared  while  I  was  fixing 
the  machine.  Fve  no  idea  who  he  was. 
REGINALD  :  That  at  least  is  clear. 

[Suddenly  he  spots  the  mess  on  the  carpet.} 

Good  heavens!   What's  that? 

WILLIAM:  An  oversight.  I  was  giving  a  demonstra 
tion  and  didn't  know  there  was  no  juice.  But  you're 
right.  Don't  let's  confuse  the  issue.  I  called  Dandruff 
but.  .  .  . 

REGINALD  :  You  called  who  ? 
WILLIAM:  Dandruff. 
REGINALD:  Dandruff? 

WILLIAM  (handing  Urn  Montague's  bowler) :  A  nom-de- 
chapeau  for  Mr.  Bostock  ...  I  searched  the  house 
but  he  had  gone  all  right.  Then  Miss  .  .  .  (to  Ann,} 
....  I  don't  think  I  ever  had  the  pleasure  ? 
ANN:  Vincent — Ann  Vincent. 
WILLIAM:  Ann  Vincent.    Hm.    Pity  to  change  it. 

[He  catches  Rjgwa/d's  eje.] 

REGINALD:  What? 

WILLIAM  (quickly):  As  I  was  saying,  Miss  Vincent 

arrived  and  found  me  looking  for  the  body. 

REGINALD:  What  body? 

WILLIAM  (showing  umbrella):  To  go  with  this.    Miss 

Vincent  was  quick  to  point  out  that  I  had  come  to  the 

wrong  house.     This   wasn't   "  Windy   Ridge ",   it 

was 

REGINALD:^ 

ANN:          /        rr     J 

REGINALD:  Ann,,  please. 

[Ann  subsides.] 

248 


MEET    A    BODY 

WILLIAM  (laughing):  "  Appleby  "  .  .  .  what  a  ridicu 
lous  name  for  a  house. 

REGINALD  (sharply):  Appleby  happens  to  have  been 
my  mother's  maiden  name. 

WILLIAM  :  I  see  the  connection.  I  went  to  look  over 
'  the  porch,  and  sure  enough  it  said  "  Appleby  ". 
REGINALD:  And  what  did  you  expect  it  to  say? 
WILLIAM:  "  Windy  Ridge",  of  course— like  it  did 
when  I  got  here.  The  name  pktes  had  been  deliber 
ately  changed  over. 

REGINALD    (raising    eyebrows):  Really?     With    what 
object  may  I  ask? 

WILLIAM:  To  decoy  the  lady  with  the  umbrella  here 
in  the  belief  that  this  was  "  Windy  Ridge  ".  Hence 
the  blood.  This  house  was  chosen  because  it  hasn't 
been  occupied  yet.  By  the  way,  may  I  offer  my 
congratulations  ? 
REGINALD:  Thank  you. 

[He  is  studying  the  bowler  bat,  pulling  out  pieces  of  & 
newspaper  which  ham  been  used  to  line  it.} 

ANN:  Reginald,  you  really  must  do  something.   I'n 

sure  we  ought  to  call  in  the  police. 

REGINALD:  Now,  now,  Ann.   (To  William.)   Is  thai 

all? 

WILLIAM:  Isn't  it  enough? 

REGINALD:  I  should  say  it's  altogether  too  much. 

ANN:  Arn't  you  going  to  do  anything? 

REGINALD  :  Nothing  at  all. 

ANN:  But,  Reginald! 

REGINALD:  I  never  heard  such  tarradiddle  in  my  life. 

WILLIAM:  Tara — what? 

REGINALD:  Diddle,  Mr.  Bkke.    I  refuse  to  believe 

that  anything  in  your  story  has  the  slightest  criminal 

significance  whatsoever. 

249 


ACT    ONE 


WILLIAM  :  What  ?   My  dear  sir- 


REGINALD  :  These  tilings  simply  don't  happen. 

WILLIAM:  Oh  I  Don't  you  ever  read  the  papers? 

REGINALD:  In  my  position  that  is  hardly  necessary. 

ANN  (mtb  pride) :  Reginald  is  an  announcer  at  the 

B.B.C. 

WILLIAM:  Oh,  I  say  .  .  .  could  you  get  me  Mrs. 

Dale's  autograph? 

REGINALD:  If  I  may  say  so,  you  have  prematurely 

jumped  to  conclusions  on  very  slender  evidence,  and 

so  built  up  an  absurdly  melodramatic  picture  which 

the  events  cannot  for  one  moment  justify. 

WILLIAM:  Can  you  explain  them  any  better. 

REGINALD:  I  think  I  can.    Let  us  go  back  to  the 

moment  when  you  first  thought  you  saw  the  name 

"  Windy  Ridge  **  over  this  porch.   Where  were  you 

then? 

WILLIAM  :  On  the  other  side  of  the  road. 

REGINALD:  Did  you  cross  immediately? 

WILLIAM:  Let  me  think  .  .  .  yes,  almost — I   only 

waited  for  a  lorry  to  pass.    To  be  exact,  it  was  a 

brewer's  lorry.    I  remember  feeling  thirsty  at  the 

time. 

REGINALD  :  You're  sure  of  that  ? 

WILLIAM:  I  think  so. 

REGINALD  :  Or  did  you,  as  one  often  does — note  this 

carefully,  Ann — did  you  walk  a  little  way  back  along 

the  pavement  to  cross  behind  the.  lorry? 

WILLIAM:  I  might  have  done.  Come  to  think  of  it,  I 

did. 

REGINALD:  As  I  thought. 

ANN:  What  do  you  mean,  Reginald? 

REGINALD:  It's  really  very  simple,  my  dear.   Blake 

went  back  to  pass  behind  the  lorry,  so  that  when  he 

reached  our  side  of  the  road  he  was  then  opposite 

ibis  gate  instead  of  the  one  next  door. 

250 


MEET    A    BODY 

WILLIAM:  Where  does  that  get  us? 

REGINALD:  Perhaps  I  should  have  told  you  that  the 

house  next  door  is  "  Windy  Ridge  ". 

WILLIAM:  Good  Lord! 

ANN:  Is  it? 

REGINALD  :   Of  course,  ray  dear.   (To  William^  Not 

realising  your  mistake,  you  came  up  the  garden  path 

and  into  this  house. 

ANN  (gating  admiringly  at  Reginald):  Reginald,  that's 

simply  wonderful. 

REGINALD:  Just  practical  commonsense,  my  dear. 

WILLIAM  :  Yes,  but  what  about  Mr.  Bostock  ? 

ANN  (rising):  Yes — because  of  course  we  still  don't 

know  who  Mr.  Bostock  is  except  that  he  probably 

isn't 

REGINALD  (hurriedly  stopping  her) :  For  goodness'  sake, 

Ann — the  very  mention  of  the  name  seems  to  make 

you  gibber.   (To  William.)  Describe  him. 

WILLIAM:  Let's  see.  Nondescript,  thin-faced,  thirty- 

ish,  medium  height.  .  .  . 

REGINALD:  Yes,  yes,  quite.   One  moment,  please. 

[He  goes  to  the  bottle  of  whisky  and  tumbler  on  the  side 
table.,  sniffs  at  the  glass  and  turns  round  the  bottle,,  setting 
his  thumb  against  the  level  of  the  liquid] 

You  haven't  by  any  chance  been  helping  yourself  to 

my  whisky? 

WILLIAM  :  Certainly  not. 

ANN  (quite  indignantly) :  Of  course  he  hasn't. 

REGINALD  :  Well,  someone  has. 

WILLIAM:  Mr.  Bostock? 

REGINALD:  Precisely.    Furthermore — (be  holds  up  the 

bits  of  paper  he  has  pulled  out  of  the  bowkr  bat) — he  lines 

his  hat  with  the  racing  edition  of  the  Star.   Putting 

two  and  two  together,  your  friend  Bostock  is  addicted 

to  other  people's  whisky  and  the  turf.   Agreed? 

251 


ACT    ONE 

WILLIAM:  Well — oh,  all  right — so  far. 
REGINALD  (to  Ann,  brightly) :  Now,  my  dear.  Think. 
A  nondescript  man,  thin-faced,  thirty-ish,  of  medium 
height,  who  drinks  whisky  and  backs  horses.  Who 
does  this  suggest  to  you  ?  Fm  sure  we  both  have  the 
same  man  in  mind. 

[Ann  thinks,  then  she  gets  //.] 

ANN:  Hackett! 

REGINALD:  Precisely.  Hackett. 
WILLIAM:  Who  the  hell's  Hackett? 
ANN:  Mrs.  Hackett's  husband.   Mrs.  Hackett  is  our 
charwoman. 

REGINALD  :  And  probably  the  owner  of  that  umbrella. 
A  few  days  ago  I  gave  Hackett  some  odd  jobs  to  do. 
Obviously  he  came  here  this  afternoon  to  do  them. 
WILLIAM  :  Then  what  about  the  blood  on  the  carpet  ? 
REGINALD:  One  of  the  odd  jobs  was  unpacking  some 
glassware.  Probably  he  broke  something,  cut  him 
self,  bled  on  our  new  carpet,  then  drank  some  of  my 
whisky  to  steady  his  nerves. 

ANN:  Or  else  drank  the  whisky  first  and  then  broke 
something. 

\Tbey  all  laugh.] 

REGINALD:  As  I  see  it,  your  arrival  no  doubt  caught 
him  in  the  act,  and  he  cleared  out  as  soon  as  your 
back  was  turned.  Well,  I  think  that  covers  every 
thing. 

ANN:  Reginald,  you're  marvellous,  you  really  are. 
WILLIAM  :  I  must  hand  it  to  you.  A  very  sound  piece 
of  reasoning. 

REGINALD:  I  must  say,  Mr.  Bkke,  I  think  you  should 
have  thought  twice  before  alarming  Miss  Vincent  by 
inventing  such  a  ridiculous  story, 

252 


MEET    A    BODY 

ANN  :  He  didn't  exactly  invent  it,  dear.  I  mean,  after 
all,  it  was  quite  a  natural  mistake  to  make.  We  can't 
all  explain  things  away  as  cleverly  as  you  do. 
WILLIAM:  There  are  heights  to  which  some  of  us 
can  never  aspire. 

REGINALD:  Perhaps  I  was  unjust.  But  in  future, 
Blake,  remember  to  look  for  the  obvious  explanation 
first.  (To  Ann.}  Well,  my  dear,  if  Mr.  Blake  is 
satisfied,  I  don't  think  we  need  detain  him  any 
longer. 

[Reginald  crosses  to  drinks  table  and  pours  himself  one.] 

WILLIAM:  Very  well!  (To  Ann.}  I'm  sorry  if  I 
alarmed  you  over  nothing. 

ANN  :  That's  all  right.  In  a  way  it  was  quite  fun.  .  .  . 
(She  hesitates.,  then  turns  to  Reginald.}    Perhaps  Mr. 
Blake  would  like  a  drink  before  he  leaves. 
WILLIAM:  No,  thank  you.  I'd  be  quite  content  if  you 
would  grant  me  one  small  favour. 
REGINALD:  What's  that? 

WILLIAM  (picking  up  tube  of  vacuum  with  small  attach- 
ment} :  Your  undivided  attention  for  one  moment.  I 
have  here  the  Electro-Broom,  the  Little  Wizard  of 
the  Carpet. 

REGINALD:  I'm  sorry,  but  I'm  afraid  we're  not 
interested. 

WILLIAM:  Ah,  but  no  newly-married  couple  can 
afford  to  be  without  it.  Picture  it  ...  the  Electro- 
Broom's  gende,  soothing  hum  will,  in  the  years  to 
come,  drift  upwards  to  the  nursery  like  a  lullaby  and 
bring  soft  soothing  slumber  to  the  little  tousled 
heads  resting  on  the  pillows. 

REGINALD:  Mr.  Blake,  I  have  already  given  you  your 
conge. 

WILLIAM  (looking  about  Mm}-.  I  must  have  put  it  down 
somewhere. 

253 


ACT    ONE 

ANN:  Reginald,  I  do  think  it's  the  least  we  can  do 

just  to  listen  a  moment  to  what  he  has  to  say. 

WILLIAM:  Thank  you. 

ANN:  Even  if  it's  utterly  pointless. 

WILLIAM:  I — well  now,  the  ordinary  cleaner  sweeps 

as  it  cleans 

\During  the  ensuing  dialogue,  William  is  vainly  endeavour 
ing  to  demonstrate  the  ULIectro-'Broom.] 

REGINALD:  Good  heavens!   Look  at  the  time.   I've 

got  to  get  back  to  Broadcasting  House.  I  don't  know 

what  Fm  going  to  do. 

WILLIAM:  You  could  put  on  a  gramophone  record. 

REGINALD  :  I  haven't  hung  a  single  one  of  my  pictures 

yet. 

ANN:  I'll  do  it  for  you  afterwards. 

REGINALD  :  But  I  know  exactly  how  I  want  them. 

WILLIAM  :  The  superior  cleaner  beats  as  it 

ANN:  You  tell  me  how  and  I'll  put  them  up. 
REGINALD :_ But  IVe  brought  my  "Mill  House  and 
Pool "    with    me — you    know,   the    attributed    to 
Constable. 

ANN:  Well,  there  can't  be  more  than  one  or  two 
different  ways  of  hanging  pictures. 
REGINALD:  That  just  shows  your  complete  unaware- 
ness   of  these  things.     (Unwrapping  the  painting  in 
question?) 

WILLIAM:  Perhaps  I  could  be  of  assistance  ? 
REGINALD:  I  hardly  think  so. 

WILLIAM  (holding  vacuum  tube  to  Reginald  like  a  micro 
phone]  :  Would  you  care  to  say  a  few  words  ? 
ANN:  But  Reginald,  you  just  said  that  you  had  to 
get  back  to  the  B.B.C.  and  you  want  the  pictures 
hung. 

REGINALD:  You  don't  think  I'd  trust  him  with  my 
attributed  to  Constable? 

254 


MEET    A    BODY 

WILLIAM    (looking   unimpressed  at  the  picture):  Who 

attributed  it? 

ANN:  We  could  leave  that  one  out. 

WILLIAM:  We  certainly  could.   Now  if  you  want  to 

get  under  sofas.  .  .  . 

REGINALD  :  I  tell  you,  they'll  have  to  wait. 

ANN:  But  Mr.  Blake  has  very  kindly  offered 

REGINALD  :  And  I  have  refused.  Besides,  he'd  knock 
holes  in  the  walls. 

WILLIAM  :  Do  you  know  any  other  way  of  getting  a 
nail  in? 

ANN:  You'll  be  kte  anyway. 

REGINALD  (suspiciously)-.  You  seem  very  anxious  to 
get  rid  of  me. 

ANN:  You  just  said  you  had  to  be  going. 
REGINALD  :  Is  that  the  only  reason  ? 
ANN  :  What  are  you  suggesting  ? 
REGINALD  :  I  don't  think  I  need  particularise. 
ANN:  Take  that  back  at  once! 

REGINALD  :  Certainly — when  you  have  got  rid  of  this 
fellow. 

ANN:  I'll  do  nothing  of  the  kind. 
REGINALD:  Very  well  I    I  shall  go  back  to  Broad 
casting  House. 

[He  goes  to  the  door^  picking  up  his  umbrella,  and  pauses 
dramatically.] 

I'm  just  beginning  to  realise  the  true  significance  of 
the  little  scene  that  greeted  my  entrance.  Goodbye! 
ANN:  How — how  dare  you!  Goodbye! 

[She  follows  him  up  to  the  doory  hut  as  Reginald  slams  //, 
the  cupboard  springs  open  and  the  mop  Jails  out.  Ann 
screams.  She  replaces  the  mop.~\ 

ANN:  He  had  absolutely  no  right  to  say  that. 
255 


ACT    ONE 

WILLIAM  :  Certainly  not.  He  should  know  you  better. 

ANN  :  He  should  indeed  1 

WILLIAM:  Of  course  this  is  absolutely  nothing  to 

do  with  me — but  may  I  make  a  suggestion  ?  Always 

stand  up  to  Reginald  like  that.  It'll  do  him  good. 

ANN  :  I  certainly  will. 

WILLIAM  :  Speaking  out  of  turn — as  someone  on  the 

outside  looking  in — he  seems  to  think  he's  marrying 

an  echo. 

ANN:  Well,  he's  not.    He  should  never  have  said 

that — never.   Even  if  he  didn't  really  mean  it. 

WILLIAM:  Now,  don't  weaken. 

ANN:  I'm    not.  .  .  .  He    simply   goaded    me   into 

answering  him  back,  didn't  he  ? 

WILLIAM:  Unquestionably. 

ANN:  .  .  .  I'll  bet  he'll  be  feeling  sorry  for  this  when 

he  cools  down. 

WILLIAM:  Only  for  himself. 

ANN:  How  can  you  say  that?   You've  only  known 

him  five  minutes. 

WILLIAM:  Not  at  all.  He's  been  saying  goodnight  to 

me  on  the  air  for  the  kst  five  years. 

ANN  (unhappily) :  He'll  have  reached  the  end  of  the 

road  by  now. 

WILLIAM:  Oozing  self-pity. 

ANN  (suddenly  looking  at  him  very  hard:    WilHam  looks 

at  the  ceiling :  I  believe  you're  deliberately  trying  to 

make  things  worse.     Anyway,   everything's   gone 

wrong  since  you  turned  up. 

WILLIAM:  Did  I  choose  Reginald  for  you? 

ANN:  That's  nothing  to  do  with  it. 

WILLIAM:  As  a  complete  outsider,  I  can't  very  well 

comment.     Otherwise   I    might    remark    that    it's 

everything  to  do  with  it. 

ANN:  What  do  you  mean? 


MEET    A    BODT 

WILLIAM:  You  two  haven't  a  hope.  He's  a  realist — 
you're  a  romantic. 

ANN:  Now  you're  being  impertinent! 
WILLIAM:  I  was  only  trying  to  help  in  a  spkit  of 
scrupulous  detachment. 

ANN:  You  mean,  you're  trying  to  detach  me  from 
Reginald. 

WILLIAM:  I  won't  say  any  more.  It  will  only  be 
misunderstood. 

ANN  :  I  was  a  fool  to  have  listened  to  your  cock-and- 
bull  story  in  the  first  pkce. 

\She  moves  towards  the  door.} 

WILLIAM:  Where  are  you  going? 
ANN  :  I'm  going  to  catch  my  fiance  before  he  reaches 
the  station.  And  when  I  come  back  I  expect  to  find 
you  gone — and  my  hearthrug  cleaned  up.  You've 
messed  up  my  house,  but  you're  not  going  to  ruin 
my  life! 

\With  this,  she  flings  out,  slamming  the  door.  William 
shrugs  and  turns  his  attention  to  packing  his  vacuum.  The 
tube  proves  difficult  to  get  into  the  box,  and  be  flings  it  down 
in  disgust.  He  turns  his  attention  to  sweeping  up  the  mess 
on  the  rug.  As  he  picks  up  the  dustpan,  the  soot  Ann  has 
already  swept  up  falls  out  on  the  rug.  He  gives  this  up,  too, 
in  disgust.  Wandering  back  to  centre,  William* s  eje 
catches  sight  of  the  "  attributed  to  Constable  "  lying  on  the 
piano.  He  picks  it  up,  and,  singing  the  song  "  Blake  was  an 
admiral ",  tries  the  picture  in  various  positions  on  the  wall. 
As  he  is  kneeling  on  the  piano  stool,  holding  the  picture 
against  the  wall,  he  loses  the  tune.  With  one  finger  he  plays 
the  melody  and,  as  it  rises  to  B  flat,  the  piano  emits  only  a 
clicking  sound.  Murmuring  "  Tbafs  funny  ",  William 
plays  the  tune  again,  but  on  the  same  note  the  same  thing 


ACT    ONE 

happens  again.  RJsing,  he  lifts  the  lid  of  the  piano  and  looks 
inside.  A  woman*  s  arm  flops  inertly  over  the  side. 

William  lowers  the  lid  and  is  walking  away  when  he 
realises  with  something  approaching  an  electric  shock  what 
has  happened.  He  trembles  all  over,  emitting  terrified 
whimpers,  rushes  upstairs  and  down  again,  and  out  of  the 
front  door.  He  runs  in  again  presently,  lifts  the  lid  of  the 
piano,  and  without  looking  pops  the  arm  hack  inside,  and 
holts  out  of  the  front  door.] 


Curtain 


258 


ACT  TWO 


Scene  i 

The  lounge  of  the  house  next  door,  immediately  after  the 
end  of  Act  I.  The  setting  is  similar  to  the  lounge  of 
"  Applebj  "  except  that  there  is  no  staircase,  a  different 
fireplace,  and  French  instead  of  casement  windows.  At  the 
small  table  right  centre  .Mr.  Hawkins  is  playing  chess  with 
the  local  police  sergeant.  Mr.  Hawkins  is  a  shaggy  man^ 
5  5  or  so,  cultured  and  a  little  old  womanish.  His  manner  is 
mild  and  inoffensive.  It  is  apparently  Mr.  Hawkins's  move. 

HAWKINS:  Sorry  to  keep  you  waiting,  Sergeant. 
SERGEANT:  That's  all  right,  sir.   Take  your  time. 

[The  clock,,  an  antique  clock  on  the  mantelpiece,  chimes 
seven.  The  sergeant  glances  up.\ 

Pretty  chime  that  clock's  got. 

HAWKINS:  Mmm. 

SERGEANT:  Make  it  yourself,  sir? 

HAWKINS:  Scarcely.    It  dates   from    1760.    I   only 

reconstructed  it. 

SERGEANT  :  Rare  lot  of  skill  that  needs  I  should  think, 

all  the  same. 

HAWKINS:  It's  my  job. 

[For  a  moment  they  study  the  board  in  silence^ 


ly  I  think  I  can  see  something.  That's  the 
trouble  with  me,  I'm  always  thinking  I  think  I  can 
see  something. 

SERGEANT  :  Well,  Mr.  Hawkins,  perhaps  you  can. 
HAWKINS:  What? 
SERGEANT:  See  something. 
HAWKINS  (roguishly)-.  A  police  trap  —  eh? 

259 


ACT    TWO,    SCENE    ONE 

SERGEANT:  Now  you  know  I  wouldn't  deceive  you 
Mr.  Hawkins. 

HAWKINS:  Hm.  Well  perhaps  you  haven't  this  time. 
There,  we'll  try  that. 

[Rather  pleased  with  himself  he  makes  a  move.  The  sergeant 
looks  at  him  In  some  surprise^ 

SERGEANT:  Oh! 

HAWKINS:  Bit  of  a  surprise,  eh? 

SERGEANT  :  Would  you  like  that  move  back,  sir  ? 

HAWKINS:  Eh!   What  the  matter ? 

SERGEANT:  Mate  in  two  more  moves  for  me  I'm 

afraid. 

HAWKINS:  How  do  you  make  that  out? 

SERGEANT  (rapidly):  My  bishop  to  here,  check,  you 

can't  move  here  or  here  or  here,  so  you'll  have  to 

move  here.  I  move  my  queen  here,  check  and  you've 

had  it.   Q.E.D. 

HAWKINS:  Mate? 

SERGEANT:  Mate. 

HAWKINS  (sighing) :  And  I  thought  I  was  being  such  a 

Machiavelli! 

SERGEANT:  like  it  back? 

HAWKINS:  Oh  no,  no. 

SERGEANT:  Go  on,  have  it  back. 

HAWKINS  :  No,  no  it  would  be  bad  for  my  character. 

Besides.  .  .  . 

[He  makes  a  vague  gesture  towards  the  clock^ 
SERGEANT:  Yes,  I'm  afraid  you're  right. 

\Thej  both  get  up.   The  sergeant  goes  to  the  hat  stand  in  the 
hallway  for  his  helmet I\ 

HAWKINS:  One  for  the  road ? 
260 


MEET    A    BODY 

SERGEANT:  Not  when  I'm  going  on  duty  if  you  don't 

mind,  sir.    Thanks  for  the  game.    You  did  a  bit 

better  this  time. 

HAWKINS:  You're    much   too    clever   for    me    I'm 

afraid,    Sergeant.     Same    time    nest    week,    then. 

Meanwhile  don't  let  them  promote  you  out  of  the 

district,  Sergeant. 

SERGEANT:  Promotion?  Fat  chance  of  that! 

[He  puts  bicycle  clips  round  bis  trouser  legs.] 

HAWKINS:  Come,  merit  must  tell  sooner  or  later. 
SERGEANT  (moving  right  to  kitchen  door):  Merit  don't 
enter  into  it  very  far,  IVlr.  Hawkins.  Only  luck. 
Happening  to  be  on  the  spot  when  something  juicy 
breaks.  But  somehow  or  other  I  never  am.  Never. 
Goodnight,  sir. 

{Sergeant  exits  right.  Hawkins  starts  to  fill  his  pipe. 
The  sergeant  is  heard  in  the  kitchen} 

SERGEANT  (off):  Goodnight,  Nellie. 

MRS.  BOSTOCK'S  VOICE  (of):  Goodnight,   Sergeant. 

Mind  how  you  go  on  that  bike  of  yours. 

[There  is  a  violent  knocking  on  the  front  door.  Hawkins 
opens  it  to  admit  a  very  agitated  William.  Seeing  Hawkins, 
he  bursts  in  without  any  preliminaries.} 

WILLIAM:  Where's  your  telephone? 
HAWKINS:  Eh? 
WILLIAM:  Telephone? 

HAWKINS:  May  I  ask ? 

WELLI.AM:  Couldn't  find  a  call  bos.  Where  is  it? 

HAWKINS:  What  is  all  this? 

WILLIAM:  Next  door.   We  must  call  the  police. 


ACT    TWO,    SCENE    ONE 

HAWKINS  :  The  police  ? 

WILLIAM:  Murder. 

HAWKINS:  What? 

WILLIAM:  Next  door.  Just  found  a  body. 

HAWKINS:  Good  gracious! 

WILLIAM  :  A  woman. 

HAWKINS:  No  I 

WILLIAM:  Where's  the  'phone? 

HAWKINS:  Oh  dear!    You've  just  missed  the  police 

sergeant.    He  was  here  only  a  minute  ago.    Playing 

chess,  mated  me  in  two.    Telephone,  yes,  yes  the 

telephone. 

[Picks  up  the  telephone  receiver.} 

WILLIAM:  Hurry. 

HAWKINS:  Yes,  of  course.   Which  side? 

WILLIAM:  That  side,  Appleby. 

HAWKINS:  Appleby.  A  woman? 

WILLIAM:  Yes  .  .  .  Dkl  999, 

HAWKINS  (struggling  with  the  telephone):  9  .  .  9  .  .  . 

Wait  a  minute,  better  if  I  catch  Sergeant  Basset  at  the 

station.    Now  what's   the  number?    Oh  yes.    (To 

William.)    Oh — would  you  mind  closing  the  front 

door. 

[He  starts  to  dial  again.  William  in  his  agitation  closes  the 
front  door  from  outside.,  thereby  locking  himself  out.  He 
knocks  violently  again  and  Hawkins  re-admits  him.] 

You're  quite  serious  about  this  ? 
WILLIAM:  Of  course.   (He  shuts  the  front  door.) 
HAWKINS:  Yes.   I  must  say  you  look  it.   (Apparently 
someone  answers  the  other  end  of  the  telephone.)    Oh, 
police  station.  Yes.  Oh — good  evening.  Is  Sergeant 
Basset  there  yet?    Mr.  Hawkins.    I  know  he's  on 


MEET    A    BODY 

his  way.   He  can't  be  more  than  a  moment.   Yes,  I'll 

hang  on.  (To  William?)  Couldn't  be  suicide  ? 

WILLIAM  :  Out  of  the  question. 

HAWKINS:  Mm.   (In  telephone?)   Sergeant?  Oh  thank 

goodness.     You    must   come   back   here  at    once. 

There's  been  a  death  next  door  and  the  young  man 

thinks  it's  murder.    What — the  man  who  found  the 

body.   Yes,  next  door. 

WILLIAM:  Appleby. 

HAWKINS:  Appleby.  .  .  .  Oh  yes  do,  please.    Yes, 

of  course. 

\He  listens  for  a  moment y  then  bangs  up.] 

He's  coming  round  at  once. 

WILLIAM:  How  long  will  he  be? 

HAWKINS:  Two  or  three  minutes  at  the  most. 

WILLIAM:  Good. 

HAWKINS:  Meanwhile  he  says  everything  is  to  be  left 

exactly  as  you  found  it.  Do  sit  down  and  let  me  get 

you  something. 

WILLLAM  :  Thank  you.  I  won't  say  no. 

HAWKINS:  Rather  not.   Try  to  relax.   (He  is  pouring  a 

drink  at  the  sideboard?)  I  didn't  know  the  people  next 

door  had  moved  in  yet. 

WILLIAM:  They're    on    the    verge — just    finishing 

furnishing. 

HAWKINS:  I  see. 

\William  turns  to  take  the  drink,,  grabs  the  bottle  instead.] 

WILLIAM:  Thanks.    Oh — sorry.    (He  swops  the  bottle 

for  the  glass*} 

HAWKINS:  And  you — pardon  me,  but  I  suppose  in 

the  circumstances  I  ought  to  ask 

WILLIAM  :  I'm  just  a  salesman  who  happened  to  have 


ACT    TWO,    SCENE    ONE 

an  appointment.   Stumbled  on  the  tiling  by  accident. 
HAWKINS  :  It  must  have  been  a  nasty  shock. 
WILLIAM  :  It  was. 

HAWKINS:  Most  upsetting.   It  upsets  me  just  to  hear 
about  it.    And  the  victim,  was — it — I  should  say — 

she ? 

WILLIAM  :  I  don't  know.  Never  seen  her  before  in  my 

life. 

HAWKINS:  Dear  me.   Hmm.   In  the  circumstances  I 

had  better  tell  my  housekeeper  she  can  go  for  the 

night.    These  local  people  talk  so.    What  do  you 

think? 

WILLIAM:  I  expect  you're  right. 

HAWKINS:  She  won't  think  anything  being  a  daily 

woman.. 

[He  crosses  to  the  kitchen  door  and  calls  through. .] 

We  shan't  want  anything  more  tonight,  you  can  go  if 

you  want  to. 

MRS.    BOSTOCK'S    VOICE    (off):     Thank    you,    Mr. 

Hawkins.  The  usual  time  in  the  morning? 

HAWKINS:  Er  .  .  .  yes. 

MRS.  BOSTOCK  (receding)'.  Goodnight,  sir. 

HAWKINS:  Goodnight,  Mrs.  Bostock. 

WILLIAM  (looks  up  sharply) :  Mrs.  Bosfotfe? 

HAWKINS:  Yes. 

WILLIAM:  Then  this  is  "  Windy  Ridge  "? 

HAWKINS  :  That's  so.    (Bringing  a  cigarette  box  from 

the  table.}  Cigarette? 

WILLIAM:  Thank  you.    Good  Lord.    Of  course  it 

would  be.   (Suddenly.)   Were  you  expecting  anybody 

tonight? 

HAWKINS  :  I  beg  your  pardon  ? 

WILLIAM:  A  lady  by  any  chance? 

HAWKINS  :  I  don't  follow,  why  ? 

264 


MEET    A    BODY 

\VILLIAM:  I  don't  know  whether  .  .  .  well  there's  no 
reason  why  I  shouldn't  tell  you.  I've  reason  to 
believe  that  the  woman  who  was  killed  was  coming 
here. 

HAWKINS:  Oh  good  gracious.  What  makes  you 
think  that  ? 

WILLIAM  :  You'll  hear  the  full  story  when  the  police 
come.  I  believe  the  name  plates  on  the  porches  were 
changed  over  for  half  an  hour  or  so  this  evening, 
yours  was  stuck  over  the  porch  next  door.  The  victim 
called  there  thinking  it  was  the  real  Windy  Ridge. 
Incidentally  so  did  I.  I'd  made  a  date  with  your  Mrs, 
Bostock  to  demonstrate  a  vacuum  cleaner. 
HAWKINS  :  What?  But  what  a  fantastic  suggestion — 
not  the  vacuum  cleaner  itself  of  course,  that  strikes  a 
mundane  note  which  seems  quite  out  of  keeping.  But, 

my  dear  fellow,  surely 

WILLIAM:  You're  certain  nobody  was  calling  here 

tonight  ? 

HAWKINS  :  Only  the  police  sergeant. 

WILLIAM  :  Then  I  give  it  up. 

HAWKINS  :  Unless  ...  no  it  couldn't  be  that. 

WILLIAM:  What? 

HAWKINS  :  I've  an  unmarried  sister  living  at  Purley, 

who's  apt  to  call  without  warning.  But  I  really  don't 

see.  .  .  . 

WILLIAM  :  Did  she  paint  her  finger  nails  ? 

HAWKINS:  Good   gracious  no.    Maud  disapproves 

most  strongly  of.  ... 

WILLIAM  (cutting  across  him} :  Well  this  one  did. 

HAWKINS:  Oh  thank  goodness  for  that.   I  must  say 

for  the  moment  you  gave  me  quite  a  turn.  You  know 

I  find  it  difficult  to  believe  that  one  minute  I'm 

playing  chess  with  a  policeman,  the  nest  I'm  mixed  up 

in  murder  most  foul.  I  suppose  I  shall  have  to  appear 

in  court? 


ACT    TWO,    SCENE    ONE 

WILLIAM  :  To  say  nothing  of  the  News  of  the  World. 

HAWKINS:  Really?    You  think  so?    And  I  detest 

sensationalism  in  any  form. 

WILLIAM:  It  shook  me  I  don't  mind  telling  you. 

Imagine  opening  a  piano  and  seeing  that. 

HAWKINS  :  A  piano  ? 

WILLIAM:  That's  right. 

HAWKINS  :  It  ...  she  was  in  a  pianoforte  ? 

WILLIAM:  Yes. 

HAWKINS:  Good  God!   This  is  positively  surrealist! 

WILLIAM  :  Well,  there  she  was  as  large  as  life  and.  .  . 

(He  breaks  off,  rising.} — Lord,  I'd  forgotten! 

HAWKINS:  What? 

WILLIAM:  Miss  Vincent — the  girl  who   lives   next 

door — she  doesn't  know  and  she's  coming  back. 

HAWKINS  :  You  mean  somebody  ought  to  warn  her  ? 

WILLIAM:  If  she  sees  what  I  saw 

HAWKINS  (hurriedly):  Yes,  quite — don't  dwell  on  it. 
(He  coughs  and  eyes  William?)   One  of  us  ought  to  go, 
I  suppose? 
WILLIAM:  It  had  better  be  me. 

HAWKINS:  Oh,  really — I  wasn't  trying  to 

WILLIAM:  Oh  that's  all  right. 

HAWKINS  :  I  admire  your  spirit  I  must  say. 

WILLIAM  (fingering  his  glass):  I  rather  admire  yours. 

HAWKENS  :  I'll  wait  here  for  Sergeant  Basset. 

WILLIAM  (drains  his  drink  in  a  final  gulp) :  Well  back  to 

the  Chamber  of  Horrors. 

HAWKINS  (stopping  him):    Just  a  moment.    Oughtn't 

you  to  take  some  weapon  with  you,  just  in  case? 

WILLIAM:  What?    Please  don't  put  ideas  into  my 

head. 

HAWKINS   (gambling  about):  We've   nothing   in   the 

house  to  meet  these  situations,  except  the  tools  of 

my  trade — I'm  a  clock  maker,  you  know.  .  .  .  Ah — 

wait  a  minute.  (He  goes  to  a  cupboard  at  the  window  and 

266 


MEET    A    BODY 

takes  out  a  revolver  of  about  1860  vintage?)   What  about 

this? 

WILLIAM  (recoiling :  Good  Heavens ! 

HAWKINS  :  It  is  rather  old.   My  great  Uncle  acquired 

it  when  he  lived  in  Western  America.    He  always 

used  to  say  it  gave  him  confidence — er — he  was  a 

rent  collector. 

WILLIAM  (examining  it  gingerly);  Is  it  loaded? 

HAWKINS  :  Oh  no,  no.  I  don't  think  my  great  Uncle 

ever  actually  fired  the  thing.    I   imagine  he  was 

thinking  of  the — er — visual  effect. 

WILLIAM  (handing  it  back):  Thanks.    I  think  on  the 

whole  I'll  be  safer  without  it.  I  don't  want  the  police 

to  mistake  me  for  the  murderer. 

\They  go  to  the  front  door,  which  Hawkins  opens.] 

HAWKINS  :  Good  luck. 

WILLIAM:  Thanks.  And  before  the  Sergeant  comes 
back,  please  put  away  that  chess  board.  I  shall  feel 
strongly  about  any  deky. 

[He  goes  away  down  the  gardm  path.] 

Hawkins  closes  the  front  door  and  returns  to  the  cabinet 
to  put  the  gun  away.  As  be  does  so9  a  low  whistle  is  heard 
off  right.  It  is  repeated.  Hawkins  hurries  out  to  the 
kitchen.] 

HAWKINS  (off):  What  the  devil  are  you  doing  here? 
[There  is  a  muffled  reply.] 
(O/.)  Wait  there.  Wait. 

\HaT/kins  returns  info  the  room  and  draws  the  curtains^ 
167 


ACT    TWO,    SCENE    ONE 

so  that  the  room  is  in  near  darkness,  Then  Montague 
enters  from  the  kitchen  carrying  a  bundle  wrapped  in  a 
dust  sheet  over  his  shoulder  I\ 

(Sternly  >  pointing  to  the  sofa.}   Over  there. 

{Montague  dumps  the  bundle,  which  can  dimly  be  identified 
as  the  body  of  a  woman ',  on  the  sofa.  Hawkins  switches  on 
the  light  in  the  room.  Then  he  gives  a  cursory  glance  at 
the  body  and  turns  on  Montaguel\ 

HAWKINS:  I  thought  I  told  you  to  make  certain  the 

house  nest  door  was  empty. 

MONTAGUE:  I  did,  but.  .  .   ! 

HAWKINS  :  Then  what  the  hell's  happened  ?  You've 

made  an  unholy  mess  of  everything. 

MONTAGUE:  Tve  made  an  unholy  mess!   How  was  I 

to   know  that  chap  had   made  a  date  with  Mrs. 

Bostock? 

HAWKINS  :  You  could  have  got  rid  of  him. 

MONTAGUE:  I'd  like  to  have  known  what  you'd  have 

done. 

HAWKINS:  I'd    have    bought    his    blasted    vacuum 

cleaner  of  course. 

MONTAGUE:  Where  is  he  now? 

HAWKINS  :  Next  door  waiting  for  the  police. 

MONTAGUE  (alarmed} :  Police?  "What  the ! 

HAWKINS:  It's  all  right.  As  it  so  happens  they  won't 

be  coming.  Reconnect  the  telephone  will  you,  there's 

a  good  fellow. 

MONTAGUE  (complying):  Who  disconnected  it? 

HAWKINS  :  I  did,  of  course. 

MONTAGUE:  Suppose  Munro's  been  trying  to   get 

through  ? 

HAWKINS:  I  could  hardly  discuss  the  removal  of 

Sir  Gregory  Upshott  in  front  of  Police  Sergeant 

268 


MEET    A    BODY 

Basset — it  might  have  put  him  off  his  game.  Surely 
even  you  can  see  that. 

MONTAGUE  (suddenly  bursting  ouf}\  I  can't  see  what 
I'm  not  told — and  I'm  not  told  anything. 
HAWKINS:  What's  this?    Temperament?    Tempera 
ment? 
MONTAGUE:  If  you  took  me  into  your  confidence 

instead  of  always  keeping  me  in  the  dark 

HAWKINS  :  What's  that  to  do  with  it,  may  I  ask  ? 
MONTAGUE:  We're  working  for  the  same  cause,  aren't 
we? 

HAWKINS  :  I  always  keep  one  shining  ideal  before  me, 
Number  One. 

MONTAGUE:  Look  here,  Mr.  Hawkins — I  came  into 
this  because  of  my  political  convictions. 
HAWKINS  :  Your  convictions  unfortunately  have  not 
been  confined  to  the  political. 

MONTAGUE:  All  right,  throw  that  in  my  face.  You 
know  I  only  agreed  to  come  in  this  because  that  bloke 
Upshott  represents  everything  I  hate — oil  monopo 
lists  who  grind  the  faces  of  the  poor.  .  .  . 
HAWKINS  (interrupting) :  The  trouble  with  you,  Alan, 
is  that  you've  developed  your  pea: liar  ideology  at 
the  expense  of  your  brains.  What  is  troubling  you, 
my  boy? 

MONTAGUE:  I've  got  a  right  to  be  properly  informed. 
HAWKINS:  This  passion  of  the  working  man  for  a 
share  in  management  I  Sometimes  I  wonder  what 
we're  coming  to. 

MONTAGUE:  I  did  what  you  told  me  with  her,  didn't 
I? 

HAWKINS  (glancing  at  the  ~body}\  Apparently, 
MONTAGUE:  I  didn't  ask  any  questions,  then,  did  I? 
HAWKINS:  No.   I  have  to  admit  that  you  seemed  to 
do  the  job  all  right. 

269 


ACT    TWO,    SCENE    ONE 

MONTAGUE:  Although  you  didn't  even  tell  me  who 
she  was ! 

HAWKINS  :  Didn't  I  ? 
MONTAGUE:  You  know  you  didn't. 
HAWKINS  (sighs  and  glances  at  the  body) :  Poor  Winifred. 
MONTAGUE:  Winifred? 

HAWKINS:  Sir  Gregory's  secretary.  She  was  good 
enough  to  give  me  the  fullest  particulars  of  her  em 
ployer's  movements  and  habits.  Yesa  in  a  way  we 
owe  everything  to  her. 
MONTAGUE  :  So  she  was  your  stool  pigeon  ? 
HAWKINS  :  Such  a  pity  she  smelt  a  rat.  Imagine  my 
indignation,  when  I  discovered  she  was  actually 
following  me — and  had  even  found  out  my  address. 
You  know  me,  honest  and  open  to  a  fault.  I  taxed 
her  with  it  only  this  afternoon  when  she  telephoned. 
But  she  would  insist  on  coming  here  at  once.  At 
such  short  notice  too,  no  time  to  put  off  Sergeant 
Basset.  Poor  Sergeant  Basset!  Thinks  he's  so  good  at 
chess  but  I  always  have  to  let  him  win. 

[Montagus  rises  nervously^ 

What  is  the  matter? 

MONTAGUE:  Supposing  that  vacuum  cleaner  bloke 

comes  back? 

HAWKINS  :  That's  unlikely  for  the  next  ten  mintues. 

But  if  he  does  then  I'm  afraid  you'll  have  to  repeat 

your  earlier  performance. 

MONTAGUE:  I    don't    like    it.     Everything's    gone 

wrong.    Let's  get  out  of  here  while  the  going's 

good. 

HAWKINS  :  Calm  down,  Alan,  calm  down.  Nothing's 

gone  wrong  that  can't  be  put  right.    Meanwhile  I 

would  like  to  run  over  the  arrangements  at  NewclifFe. 

Must  get  it  right  after  all.  Let's  see — the  bar  parlour 

270 


MEET   A   BODY 

at  the  Green  Man  is  the  first  door  on  the  right — and 

the  radio  set  that  you  sold  the  landlord  you  put  at 

the  foot  of  the  stairs. 

MONTAGUE  :  That's  right,  on  an  old  radiogram.  You 

can't  miss  it.  All  you  have  to  do  is  turn  it  round,  take 

off  the  back,  set  the  time  clock  and  connect  the 

detonator-. 

HAWKINS  (smiling)'.  I  think  I  ought  to  be  able  to 

manage  that. 

MONTAGUE  :  It's  not  much  of  a  pub.  Not  the  sort  of 

place  you'd  expect  Upshott  to  patronise. 

HAWKINS:     He  has  his  reasons  for  wishing  to  be 

discreet. 

MONTAGUE:    Oh,  it's  like  that  is  it? 

HAWKINS:  Sir  Gregory  has  responded  to  the  call  of 

the  wild  in  the  shape  of  the  fourth  typist  from  the  left 

in  his  outer  office.  Tonight  he's  taking  her  down  to 

the  Green  Man — incognito,  of  course,  as  he's  a 

public  figure. 

MONTAGUE:  A  public  gilded  sepulchre! 

HAWTKINS:  Now,  now,  Alan,  you  mustn't  let  your 

ideology  get  the  better  of  you.   Still  it  does  make  a 

nice  pattern,  doesn't  it?  To  stab  him,  so  to  speak, 

through  the  chink  in  his  armour.  We  are  striking  in 

our  humble  way  a  blow  for  morality.  Doesn't  that 

make  you  happy? 

MONTAGUE:  All  I'm  concerned  with  is  carrying  out 

our  orders. 

HAWKINS  :  There's  no  need  to  be  so  damned  virtuous. 

Y0#'re  being  paid  for  it  too. 

MONTAGUE:  I   tell  you,  I'm  only  concerned  with 

making  quite  certain  Upshott  never  gets  to  the  Middle 

East. 

HAWKINS  :  With  a  little  luck  he  might  be  blown  there. 

MONTAGUE:  How  do  you  know  he'll  be  anywhere 

near  the  radio  set? 


ACT    TWO,    SCENE    ON£ 

HAWKINS:  How  do  I  know? 

[Montague  watches  him  as  he  opens  the  case  of  a  tape 
recorder  which  is  standing  on  a  table  against  the  back  wall.] 

MONTAGUE  :  What  have  you  got  there  ? 

HAWKINS:  The  answer  to  your  question.    A  tape 

recorder.   Excuse  me. 

[He  starts  the  machine  and  as  Sir  Gregory's  voice  starts  to 
come  over  on  his  speaker,  he  stop-watches  the  start.  AT.B. 
Record  starts  in  middle  of  a  sentence.  Hawkins  is  resuming 
the  timing  of  it,  presumably  interrupted^ 

MONTAGUE:  What's  that? 

HAWKINS  :  Don't  you  recognise  Sir  Gregory  ? 

MONTAGUE  (stares  at  the  machine) :  What  ? 

HAWKINS:  It's  his  speech  at  the  luncheon  today.    I 

took  this  off  the  broadcast. 

MONTAGUE:  This  isn't  the  time  to  go  pkying  records. 

HAWKINS  :  The  point  is,  Alan,  they're  broadcasting  a 

recording  of  his  speech,  this  speech — at  10.45  tonight 

and  Sir  Gregory,  like  most  politicians,  is  known  to 

be  very  fond  of  the  sound  of  his  own  voice. 

MONTAGUE:  You  mean  he'll  listen  to  it. 

HAWKINS:  It's  a  psychological  certainty. 

[At  this  point  the  telephone  starts  to  ring.] 
HAWKINS  :  Munro !   Answer  it. 

[Montague  goes  to  the  telephone.    Hawkins  continues  to 
time  the  recording  with  his  stop  watch.} 

MONTAGUE  (in  phone) :  Yes,  Alan  here.    Yes,  he  is. 
What?    Good.    All  right.    I'll  tell  him.    What  .  .  . 

±72 


MEET    A    BODY 

going    smoothly?     I    wouldn't    exactly    say    that. 
O.K.  (He  rings  off  and  turns  to  Hawkins.)  Sir  Gregory's 
on  his  way  to  NewclifTe. 
HAWKINS  :  Splendid.  Just  a  moment.  .  .  . 

[He  listens  intently  to  the  recording  which  at  this  point 
reaches  "  When  I  will  disappear ',  this  time  finally,  from 
the  public  scene  ".  Hawkins  checks  the  stop  watch  and 
stops  the  recorder.} 

"  Disappear,  this  time  finally,  from  the  public  scene  ". 
and  so  he  will,  bless  his  little  heart,  at  the  most 
approprkte  moment,  let's  see  (consulting  stopwatch} 
three  and  five  is  eight — at  10.48  precisely.  Ingenious, 
I  think,  on  the  whole. 

MONTAGUE:  It  would  be  simpler  to  shoot  him. 
HAWKINS:  So  you  have  remarked  on  a  wearisome 
number   of  occasions.     Simpler  perhaps    but   not 
safer.    Besides  I'm  fond  of  any  sort  of  mechanism. 
Even  the  human  mechanism.    (Getting  into  his  over 
coat?)  I'll  see  you  at  Northolt  at  seven  in  the  morning. 
MONTAGUE  (jndicating  body):  What  about  her? 
HAWKINS  :  Yes,  that's  a  point.  There's  an  inspection 
pit  in  the  garage — I  should  think  that  would  be 
quite  a  nice  place.  I'm  sure  I  can  rely  on  you  not  to 
linger. 
MONTAGUE:  You  bet. 

[Hawkins  moves  to  the  door.  ^Montague  suddenly  moves 
offer  him.} 

Wait  a  minute. 

[He  suddenly  thrusts  out  his  hand^  with  emotional  stolidity^ 

Good  luck  to  our  mission. 

273 


ACT    TWO,    SCENE    TWO 

HAWKINS:  When  I  look  at  you,  Alan,  I'm  glad  my 
mind  is  a  political  vacuum. 

[He  pauses  as  he  turns  again  to  go.} 

Do  you  know  I  feel  quite  excited.  I  honestly  believe 
Td  do  this  sort  of  work  without  even  being  paid  for 
it.  I  suppose  if  the  truth  be  known  I  have  a  kink. 
Goodnight. 

[He  goes,  shutting  the  door.  Montague  stands  for  a 
moment,  surveying  the  body.  The  sound  of  Hawkins* s  car  is 
heard  driving  off.  Then  Montague  switches  off  the  lights 
and  crosses  to  the  kitchen,  rolling  up  his  sleeves  in  prepara 
tion  for  his  grisly  task.  He  exits.  After  a  moment  there 
is  a  faint  groan  from  the  sofa.  The  body  writhes  under 
the  dustsheet  shroud,  then  slowly  struggles  to  sit  upright.] 


Curtain 

Scene  2 

The  "Lounge  of  "Appleby"  The  same  as  Act  One. 

As  the  curtain  rises.,  the  stage  is  vacant.  The  front  door  is 
open  in  the  little  hall  at  the  back.  Ann  enters,  hatless  and 
rather  breathless,  as  if  she  had  hurried  up  the  road  after 
leaving  Reginald.  She  looks  round  as  if  expecting  William 
to  be  there.  She  sees  the  vacuum  cleaner  still  lying  on  the 
floor.  She  stares  at  it  indignantly,  glances  round  the  room 
and  crosses  swiftly  to  the  door  right. 

AJSJN  (calling) :  Hey  you !   Are  you  still  here  ? 
274 


MEET    A    BODY 

[There  is  no  answer.  She  calls  up  the  stairs.} 

(Calling.)  Are  you  there?  Hello!  Mr.  Bkke!  Hello! 

[There  is  no  reply.  Deciding  William  must  have  gone.,  Ann 
returns  to  the  room  and  looks  at  the  vacuum  cleaner.  Then 
her  attention  is  drawn  to  the  large  cardboard  box  she 
brought  in.  It  is  lying  on  the  window  seat.  Her  face  lights 
up — she  crosses  to  it  quickly ',  takes  off  the  lid  and  delving 
inside  pulls  out  several  pieces  of  lingerie — -first  a  wrap,  then 
a  scanty  foundation  garment.  She  looks  at  the  garment, 
and  then  glancing  around  her  as  if  in  search  of  something 
she  picks  up  a  mirror  from  the  table,  runs  across  with  it 
to  the  mantelpiece  and  stands  it  up.  She  holds  the  garment 
briefly  against  her,  then  hurries  out  right. 

The  moment  she  exits  William  comes  in  through  the  front 
door.  He  glances  round  and  thinking  Ann  has  not  returned 
studies  the  room  curiously  for  a  second,  moves  across  and 
picks  up  the  umbrella,  then  takes  up  the  bowler  hat 
carefully.  He  examines  the  interior,  sniffs  it  and  makes  a 
face.  He  crosses  to  the  window,  holds  the  bowler  hat  up  to 
the  light  at  arm's  length  and  looks  at  it  thoughtfully, 
at  the  same  time  drumming  his  fingers  of  one  hand  on  top 
of  the  piano.  Suddenly  he  realises  he  is  touching  the  piano 
where  he  saw  the  body.  He  jumps  away  from  it,  puts  down 
the  hat  and  umbrella,  he  then  glancss  around  as  if  a  thought 
had  just  struck  him,  makes  for  the  stairs  and  goes  up  them. 

Ann  returns  with  her  wrap  around  her.  She  crosses  quickly 
to  the  little  hall  and  shuts  the  front  door.  Feeling  that  she 
is  now  quite  safe  she  comes  back  to  the  room  and  with  an 
air  of  freedom  swiftly  takes  off  her  wrap,  throws  it  across 
the  armchair  and  reveals  herself  in  the  foundation  garment. 
She  then  moves  the  sofa  in  line  with  the  mirror  on  the 
mantel  and  jumping  up,  balances  on  the  arm  and  surveys 

275 


ACT    TWO3    SCENE    TWO 

herself.  She  is  just  performing  this  difficult  balancing  feat 
when  William  comes  quickly  downstairs.  Seeing  Ann,  he 
turns  and  bolts  out  of  sight  again,,  then  he  returns,  looking 
deliberately  nonchalant.  Ann  doestft  see  him.} 

WILLIAM:  Keeping  fit? 

[Ann  hears  his  voice  and  swings  round.} 

ANN:  Oh! 

[She  loses  her  balance  and  falls  Into  the  sofa.,  quickly 
fulling  a  cushion  down  to  cover  herself 'up >.] 

(Shrilly.)  Where  did  you  come  from  ? 

WILLIAM:  Upstairs. 

ANN:  Why? 

WILLIAM:  Well,  it's  usually  up  there. 

ANN:  You  had  no  business  here  at  all.    How  long 

have  you  been  standing  there? 

WILLIAM:  Only  a   second   or  two.     Not  more.    I 

didn't  count. 

ANN  :  Get  me  my  wrap  please,  over  there. 

WILLIAM:  Certainly. 

[He  picks  up  the  wrap  from  the  armchair  and  moves 
back  towards  her  with  It.  He  stops  short  and  throws  the 
wrap  across  to  her.} 

ANN  :  Kindly  turn  your  back. 
WILLIAM:  Yes.  Of  course. 

[He  smartly  turns  round  so  that  his  back  Is  to  her} 

Let  me  know  when  the  lights  turn  green. 

ANN:  When  I  do,  you  can  take  your  vacuum  cleaner 

and  clear  out. 

276 


MEET    A    BODY 

WILLIAM:  That's  out  of  the  question  just  now. 
ANN:  Very  well  then,  I  shall  send  for  the  police. 
WILLIAM:  That's  why  it's  out  of  the  question. 
ANN:  What? 
WILLIAM:  I've  sent  for  them  already. 

[Ann  stares  at  himl\ 

Called  them  from  next  door. 
ANN:  Turn  round. 

[William  does  so  jnechanically^ 

What  did  you  say? 

WILLIAM:  Police  Sergeant  Basset  is  on  his  way  to 

investigate  the  murder. 

ANN:  What  murder? 

WILLIAM  :  The  one  Reginald  called  off. 

ANN  :  What  about  it  ? 

WILLIAM  :  It's  on  again. 

[Ann  stares  at  him  and  suddenly  seems  to  realise  that  she 
is  quite  alone.  She  looks  at  William^  apprehensively, 
glancing  nervously  about  her.] 

ANN:  Oh.  ...  is  it? 

WILLIAM  :  Please  don't  be  alarmed,  I'm  quite  sane  and 
it's  perfectly  true. 

ANN :  But  Reginald  explained  it  away. 
WILLL\M  :  Reginald  would  explain  anything  away. 
ANN  :  He  tore  your  silly  story  to  shreds  and  you  know 
it. 

WILLIAM:  I'm  afraid  Fve  put  it  together  again.  (H* 
catches  sight  of  himself  in  the  mirror^  which  Ann  is  taking 
over  to  the  window  seat.}  I  say — who's  that  good- 
looking  fellow  following  you  ? 

277 


ACT    TWO,    SCENE    TWO 

ANN  (returning  to  sweep  up  the  rest  of  the  soot  on  the  rug) : 
Reginald  was  absolutely  right.  Of  course  he  was 
right.  In  spite  of  your  cheap  sneers  he  generally  is 

right,  because  he  has  sense  and  intelligence  and 

WILLIAM:  But  he  hasn't  got  a  body. 

ANN:  How  dare  you! 

WILLIAM:  I  was  referring  to  the  corpse. 

ANN  :  Oh.   So  you  have  a  corpse  now  ? 

WILLIAM:  Yes.    I  found  it  while  you  were  running 

after  Reginald.   So  we  are  now  back  in  position  one. 

ANN:  Indeed? 

WILLIAM:  You  think  I'm  lying,  don't  you? 

ANN:  In  my  opinion  you're  a  pathological  case. 

\She  takes  the  dustpan  and  brush  out  to  the  kitchen.] 

WILLIAM  (calling  through  the  door) :  Miss  Vincent,  you 

must  understand  that  this  is  a  serious  matter.    The 

police  are  on  the  way  and  the  man  who  committed 

this  murder  is  still  at  large.  Perhaps  only  a  few  yards 

from  us  at  this  moment. 

ANN  (appearing  in  kitchen  doorway) :  What  wTas  that  ? 

WILLIAM:  What? 

ANN:  That  whistle. 

WILLIAM  :  What  whistle  ? 

ANN    (listening    intently):  There's    someone    in    the 

garden. 

WILLIAM  :  Are  you  sure  ? 

ANN:  Listen. 

\Thej  both  pause  and  listen.} 

They  must  be  whistling  to  someone  they  think  is  in 
this  house. 
WILLIAM:  Stay  here, 

278 


MEET    A    BODY 

[He  strides  quickly  to  the  front  door,  opens  it  and  goes 
out.  Ann  dashes  to  the  door  and  slams  it  after  him.} 

ANN  (shouting  through  the  letterbox) :  If  you  want  your 
vacuum  cleaner  you  can  call  back  in  the  morning. 
I'll  tell  Mrs.  Hackett  to  put  it  out  on  the  doorstep. 

[The  letter  box  is  pushed  open.} 

WILLIAM  (shouting  through  letterbox) :  Hey,  let  me  in. 

ANN  :  Certainly  not. 

WILLIAM:  Miss  Vincent! 

ANN:  Stop  making  that  noise  and  go  away. 

WILLIAM:  It's  important,  open  the  door. 

ANN:  I  will  not. 

WILLIAM:  Remember  there's  a  body  in  there. 

ANN  :  I  know,  but  it's  got  a  vacuum  cleaner  already. 

WILLIAM:  Is  that  your  final  word? 

ANN:  Of  course. 

WILLIAM:  Very  well,  Fll  go. 

\The  letter  box  closes,  then  it  opens  again.} 

You'll  find  it  in  the  piano. 

ANN:  What? 

WILLIAM  (grimly) :  It.   Goodbye. 

[He  slams  down  the  letter  box  again.  Ann  looks  at  the 
pianot  then  uncertainly  at  the  door.  She  moves  hesitantly  up 
to  the  piano,  touches  the  lid  fearfully.,  starts  to  open  //, 
then  suddenly  pulls  her  hand  away  unable  to  go  through  with 
it.  She  hurries  to  the  door  and  pulh  it  open} 

ANN  (catling):  Did  you  call? 
[He  steps  quickly  inside.} 


ACT    TWO,    SCENE    TWO 

ANN:  If  you  said  that  just  so  that  you  could  sneak 
back  into  this  house  - 

WILLIAM:  I  give  you  my  word  —  would  you  like  me 
to  prove  it  ? 

[He  moves  over  to  the  piano  and  goes  to  touch  the  lid.] 
I  must  warn  you  that  it  won't  be  pleasant. 
[He's  about  to  lift  the  lid  when  Ann  suddenly  stop 

ANN:  No  .  .  .  don't. 

WILLIAM  :  If  you'd  rather  not  look  - 

[He  again  goes  to  raise  the  lid^\ 


ANN:  Wait.     (She  looks  at  him  fearfully^    It  was  a 

woman's,  wasn't  it  —  after  all  ? 

WILLIAM  :  Yes,  it  was.   She  was  murdered. 

ANN:  How  do  you  know  she  was  murdered? 

WILLIAM:  Well,  people  don't  usually  kill  themselves 

and  pop  themselves  into  pianos. 

ANN:  Who  could  it  be?   I  don't  understand  how  it 

could  possibly  have  happened  here. 

WILLIAM:  The  police  may  be  able  to  answer  both 

those  questions,  I  can't.  .  .  .  The  front  door  was 

locked,  of  course? 

ANN:  Naturally. 

WILLIAM  :  Then  the  chap  I  met  must  have  come  in  by 

the  window. 

[He  crosses  to  the  window  and  looks.] 

Yes,  this  one's  open. 

ANN  :  You  mean  he  came  in  —  and  waited  ? 

WILLIAM:  Yes.    He  must  have  opened  the  door  to 

her. 

280 


MEET    A    BODY 

ANN:  Then  she  would  have  seen  him. 

WILLIAM:  She  probably  expected  to. 

ANN:  But  when  he  attacked  her,  surely  she  would 

have  screamed.   Somebody  would  be  bound  to  hear. 

WILLIAM:  He  might  have  taken  her  by  surprise. 

ANN:  How? 

WILLIAM:  This  wants  working  out.    He  must  have 

been  in  a  position  to.  ...  Sit  down  a  minute. 

ANN:  Why? 

WILLIAM:  I'll  show  you. 

[Ann  immediately  sits  on  the  sofa.] 

I  sit  opposite  to  you — here.   Let's  say  you're  trying 

to  blackmail  me. 

ANN:  Why? 

WILLIAM:  Well,  I  have  a  wife  and  children. 

ANN:  Have  you? 

WILLIAM:  No.  Does  it  make  any  difference? 

ANN:  No,  of  course  not. 

WILLIAM:  Quite  so.    I  say  blackmail  because  it's  as 

likely  as  anything  else.  .  .  .  Well,  I  pky  for  time. 

Pour  you  out  a  whisky — the  whisky — and  while 

you're  sipping  it,  I  cross  casually  to  the  fire  place, 

keeping  tip  a  brisk  conversation — take  the  poker — 

and  poke  the  dying  fire. 

ANN:  It's  never  been  lit. 

WILLIAM:  Very  well.,  I  don't  poke  the  fire.    I  toy 

with  the  ornaments. 

ANN:  No  ornaments. 

WILLIAM:  I  pick  up  the  poker  or  whatever  else  is 

handy.   Quietly  I  approach  the  sofa  from  the  back. 

ANN  (suddenly  pulling  an  envelope  out  from  the  side  of  the 

sofa) :  Oh,  he's  left  it  behind. 

WILLIAM:  What? 

ANN:  Reginald.     He's   left  the   manuscript   of  his 

poem  here. 

281 


ACT    TWO,    SCENE    TWO 

WILLIAM  (annoyed  at  being  interrupted)1.  What  of  it? 

.  .  .  Quietly  I  approach  the  sofa  from  behind.  .  .  . 

ANN:  But  he  was  going  to  read  it  tonight  on  the 

Third  Programme. 

WILLIAM  :  He's  bound  to  have  another  copy.  Quietly 

I  approach.  .  .  . 

ANN:  I  don't  think  he  has. 

WILLIAM  :  He's  probably  learnt  it  by  heart. 

ANN:  He  can't  have  done.   It's  a  modern  poem. 

WILLIAM  :  Then  he  can  make  it  up  as  he  goes  along. 

Please  pay  attention.    This  is  really  important.   The 

more  I  think  about  it  the  simpler  it  becomes.    All 

this  time  I've  been  getting  nearer,  suddenly  I  lean 

over  and  with  the  other  hand  - 

ANN:  But  I'm  sure  Regin  - 

WILLIAM  :  —  stifle  your  screams  —  and  before  you  can 

utter  a  sound  I  give  you  a  violent  blow  with  a  blunt 

instrument.   You  struggle,  but  I  have  my  hand  over 

your  mouth. 

[He  grabs  her  mouth  with  one  hand.  Ann  has  been  taken 
completely  by  surprise  and  in  mid  alarm  she  thrusts  out  her 
hands  and  seizes  William  by  the  throat.  He  tries  so 
desperately  to  free  himself  that  they  roll  off  the  sofa  on  to 
the  floor.  The  key  turns  in  the  lock  of  the  front  door  and 
JLeginald  comes  hurrying  in.  He  pulls  up  abruptly  as  he 
sees  Ann  and  William  rolling  on  the  floor.  They  both  look 
up  and  see 


REGINALD:  Ann! 

ANN  (lamely)  :  Oh  Reginald,  I  found  your  poem. 

REGINALD  (in  terribly  strained  voice)'.  What  are  you 

doing  on  the  floor  with  that  fellow? 

WILLIAM  :  Waiting  for  the  police. 

REGINALD  :  Do  you  expect  me  to  believe  that  ? 

WILLIAM:  I  was  simply  conducting  an  experiment 

with  your  fiancee. 


MEET    A    BODY 

REGINALD  :  I'm  not  interested  In  the  preliminaries. 

ANN:  Listen  to  me,  Reginald.  (To  William?)    And 

you  shut  up. 

REGINALD:  I  refuse  to  listen. 

ANN  :  Reginald  .  .  .  someone's  been  murdered  .  .  . 

the  body  is  here  in  this  room. 

REGINALD  :  I  beg  your  pardon  ? 

ANN:  It's  in  the  piano. 

REGINALD  :  Ann,  what  on  earth  has  come  over  you  ? 

ANN  (frantically):  I  tell  you  there's  a  body  in  the 

piano. 

REGINALD:  What? 

ANN  (excitedly):  It's  a  woman,   Reginald.   She  was 

battered  from  behind  with  her  mouth  shut. 

[Reginald  crosses  swiftly  to  the  piano.} 
(Turning away.}  Reginald!  Don't. 

[Reginald  ignores  her.  Lifts  up  the  lid  of  the  piano  while 
Ann  covers  tip  her  face  and  turns  awaj.  Reginald  looks 
inside  the  piano  then  lowers  the  lid.  He  turns  to  stare  at 
William^ 

REGINALD  (after  a  pause) :  I  suppose  you  think  that's 

funny? 

WILLIAM:  Eh? 

[He  crosses  to  the  piano.  Lifts  the  lid,  looks  inside.] 

ANN  (turning):  What's  happened? 

WILLIAM:  I  tell  you,  she  was  there  wiien  I  left  the 

room! 

[Ann  in  turn  crosses  to  the  piano ,  and  stares  inside.] 
ANN  (bewildered):  There's  nothing  there. 


ACT    TWO,    SCENE    TWO 

WILLIAM:  But  it's  incredible.  Somebody  must  have 
moved  her.  I  struck  B  fiat  and  it  wasn't  there.  (He 
strikes  it  now  four  times  and  it  plays.)  Now — it's  there, 
and  she  isn't. 

REGINALD  (to  Ann):  What  you  can  hope  to  gain  by 
this  ludicrous  charade,  I  can't  think. 
WILLIAM  (lamely)*.  It  isn't  a  charade. 
REGINALD:  I  was  not  addressing  you.  (To  Ann.)  It's 
absolutely  beyond  me  how  you  could  bring  yourself 
to  listen  to  the  demented  vapourisings  of  this  com 
mon  adventurer. 

WILLIAM:  I  beg  your  pardon,  Charterhouse  and — 
well,  never  mind. 

REGINALD  (ignoring  this  and  continuing  to  Ann) :  I  can 
only  say,  Ann,  that  you've  shown  me  a  side  to  your 
nature  which  I  never  dreamed  existed. 
ANN  (recovering  her  spirit) :  How  dare  you  talk  to  me 
like  that  in  front  of  a  stranger. 
REGINALD:  Stranger!  Huh! 
WILLIAM:  Not  so  much  of  the  huh! 
REGINALD:  Be  silent,  sir.    I  enter  my  house.  .  .  . 
ANN:  Your  house! 
REGINALD  :  Certainly  it's  my  house. 
WILLIAM:  Who  paid  the  deposit? 
REGINALD  (turns  back  to  face  Ann) :  I  enter  my  house  to 
discover  you  alone  with  that  fellow,  hiding  for  some 
obscure  reason,  behind  the  sofa.   Later  I  come  back 
to  find  the  position  has  deteriorated  to  the  point 
where  you  are  rolling  on  the  floor  with  him  in  your 
underwear. 

ANN  (furiously  interrupting) :  If  you  say  another  word 
I'll  smack  your  face. 

REGINALD:  Should  I  be  so  foolish  as  to  return  yet 
again,  I  shudder  to  think 

{Ann  smacks  his  face.    "Reginald  stares  at  her  for  a  full 
284 


MEET    A    BODY 

second.,  then  turning  on  his  hed  grabs  his  bat  and  jams  it  on 
his  head.  Unfortunately  it  is  the  bowler  hat  left  by 
Montague.] 

This  is  the  end  of  the  chapter. 

[He  exits.    William  looks  at  Ann  admiringly] 

WILLIAM:  You  were  magnificent.  Absolutely  mag 
nificent. 

ANN  (rounds  on  him) :  You  dirty,  lying  hound  I 
WILLIAM:  Eh? 

ANN  (shouting):  Qear  out  and  leave  me  alone. 
(Throwing  herself  on  the  sofa.)  Oh,  why  did  I  believe 
such  a  damned  silly  story. 

\Wtitiam  sits  on  the  arm  of  the  sofa.] 

WILLIAM  (sympathetically):  But  it's  true.    It  really  is 

true. 

ANN:  Don't  come  near  me. 

WILLIAM:  But  I  did  see  it. 

ANN:  You  didn't. 

WILLIAM:  I  did.  I  tell  you  I  saw  a  woman's  arm.   I 

touched  it. 

[He  is  interrupted  by  Ejg?tta/d  rushing  in.  He  hangs 
Montagues  hat  on  the  table  ^  jams  on  his  own.,  and  crosses 
to  William  and  Ann] 

REGINALD:  My  poem. 
WILLIAM  (to  Ann) :  His  poem. 
REGINALD  (fiercely) :  I  want  it. 
WILLIAM:  He  wants  it. 

[Ann  feels  for  the  poem,  she  is  sifting  on  it,  she  drags  it 
out  from  under  her.] 

285 


ACT    TWO,    SCENE    TWO 

ANN  (savagely):  Take  it. 

[She  passes  the  poem  to  William.] 

WILLIAM  (handing  poem  to  ILeginald):  I  pass. 

[Reginald  steps  up  to  William.] 

REGINALD  (between  his  teeth) :  By  heaven,  I'd  give  you 
the  thrashing  of  your  life  .  .  .  (William  rises)  ...  if 
I  didn't  have  to  read  the  9  o'clock  news. 

[He  takes  his  poem  and  exits  without  troubling  to  shut 
the  front  door.] 

WILLIAM:  Pity  to  let  him  go  like  that.   The  weather 

forecast  tonight  will  be  terrible. 

ANN  :  If  he  was  half  a  man  he'd  have  given  you  a  good 

hiding  instead  of  just  talking  about  it. 

WILLIAM  :  I  suppose  it's  hopeless  to  try  and  convince 

you? 

ANN:  Absolutely. 

WILLIAM:  I  thought  so.  I'm  beginning  to  wonder  if 

I  ought  not  to  doubt  it  myself. 

ANN    (again    sarcastically):  Are    you    really?     How 

remarkable. 

WILLIAM:  Yet  I  know  I  touched  her  arm.   She  was 

wearing  a  black  dress. 

ANN  :  And  she  felt  so  uncomfortable  in  the  piano  that 

she  got  up  and  went  home. 

WILLIAM:  Why  should  I  tell  you  I  saw  her  there  if  I 

didn't? 

ANN  (slowly):  Wait  a  minute.    Didn't  you  say  you 

'phoned  the  police  ? 

WILLIAM:  Yes. 

ANN  (sharply):  Then  why  aren't  they  here?    When 

286 


MEET    A    BODY 

someone  reports  a  murder  they  don't  hang  about  do 

they? 

WILLIAM:  By  jove,  you're  right.   Why  aren't  they 

here? 

ANN  :  Because  you  never  'phoned  them  of  course. 

WILLIAM  :  No — now  I  come  to  think  of  it,  I  didn't. 

ANN:  You  didn't. 

WILLIAM:  No.     The    fellow    next    door    did — I — I 

wonder 

ANN:  What? 

WILLIAM  (thinking  aloud}'.  Of  course  he  didn't.    He 

only  pretended  to  make  that  call.  Don't  you  see 

ANN  (interrupting) :  I'm  afraid  I  don't  see.  I'm  going 
to  change  now,  and  if  you  haven't  removed  yourself 
when  I  come  back,  I  shall  'phone  the  police  myself 
and  have  you  thrown  out. 

[William  is  staring  out  of  the  window.  The  door  is  opening 
slowly  .  .  .  //  swings  back  abruptly  and  the  woman  in 
black  staggers  slowly  in — the  woman  of  the  last  scene.  She 
is  in  a  complete  da^e;  across  her  forehead  is  a  streak  of 
blood.  Ann  lets  out  a  shriek.] 

WILLIAM  :  What's  the  matter — stubbed  your  toe  ? 

[He  turns  and  sees  the  woman  staggering  to  the  centre  of  the 
room.  He  rushes  forward  to  catch  her  as  she  collapses  in  a 
heap.} 

Quick — some  brandy ! 

[He  lifts  her  bodily  and  places  her  on  the  sofa.  Ann 
recovers  her  nerve.] 

ANN  :  We  haven't  any. 

WILLIAM:  Whisky  then — anything.  That  bottle. 

287 


ACT    TWO,    SCENE    TWO 

[Ann  rushes  to  the  drinks  table.,  takes  up  the  whisky  and  a 
glass.  She  holds  it  upside  down  over  the  glass  —  a  few  drops 
come  out.] 

ANN  :  There's  only  a  drop. 

WILLIAM:  Right.    Pity  there  isn't  more  —  we  could 

all  do  with  a  shot. 

ANN:  Is   she  the  -  ?    (She  looks  fearfully  towards 

piano.} 

WILLIAM:  Yes. 

ANN:  Then  she's  not  dead. 

WILLIAM:  Well  —  she  wasn't  when  she  came  in  the 

door. 

[He  has  been  trying  to  make  the  woman  take  some  of  the 


Wait  a  minute  .  .  .  no,  she's  definitely  swallowing. 

ANN:  Oh!  We  shouldn't  have  given  it  to  her. 

WILLIAM:  What? 

ANN:  The  whisky. 

WILLIAM  :  Why  not  ? 

ANN  :  Not  in  cases  of  shock. 

WILLIAM:  Why  didn't  you  think  of  that  before  ? 

ANN:  Well,  you  used  to  be  a  medical  student. 

\The  woman  opens  her  ejes.] 
WILLIAM:  She's  coming  round. 
[He  helps  her  up  into  a  sitting  position^ 

WINIFRED:  W  —  what  .  .  .  where  - 
WILLIAM:  There  .  .  .  there  .  .  .  you're  quite  safe. 
ANN  :  Ask  her  how  she  got  in  the  piano. 
WILLIAM:  Give  her  a  chance. 

288 


MEET    A    BODY 

WINIFRED  (suddenly  clutching  at  him  desperately)  :  You've 

got  to  ...  stop  them. 

WILLIAM  :  Stop  who  ? 

WINIFRED:  Sk  Gregory  —  we  must  warn  him  I 

ANN:  Sir  Gregory? 

WINIFRED:  Upshott  .  .  .  Sir  Gregory  Upshott  .  .  . 

I    work    for    him.     (Tensely.}     The    time  —  quick  — 

what's  the  time  ? 

ANN:  It  must  be  nearly  nine. 

WINIFRED  (n  'Hdly,  struggling  to  her  fee  f):  10.48  ...  it 

will  happen  at  10.48  .  .  .  hurry. 

\She  collapses  and  jails  over  William*  s  shoulder.    He  puts 

her  back  on  the  sofa.] 

WILLIAM  :  She's  fainted. 

[He  gives  her  some  more  whisky.    Winifred  opens  her  eyes} 

Tell  us  —  what's  going  to  happen  at  10.48  ? 
WINIFRED:  Eh?  .  .  .  they're  going  to  kill  him. 
ANN  (to  William)  :  We  must  send  for  the  police. 
WINIFRED    (fiercely)'.  No  —  there's    no    time.     They 
won't  believe  it  —  and   he's   using   another  name. 
{{Hutching  at  William?)  It's  going  to  go  off  at  10.48. 
WILLIAM:  What? 

[Her  head  falls  hack.} 

She's  out  again.   (He  bends  over  her.}   Listen. 

[No  response.   He  turns  to 


You  know  who  Sir  Gregory  Upshott  is,  don't  you? 
ANN:  Isn't  he  something  to  do  with  the  government  ? 
WILLIAM  :  Yes  —  he's  the  special  envoy  we  always  send 
out  East  every  time  our  oil's  going  west. 

\Begins  to  shake  her.} 

10  289 


ACT    TWO,    SCENE    TWO 

Listen  to  me,  you  must  tell  us  what  this  is  all  about. 

[William  energetically  keeps  on  shaking  Winifred.  She 
murmurs  and  half  raises  her  band,  passing  it  over  her 
forehead,,  and  staring  at  William^ 

WINIFRED  (in  a  flat ^  strained  voice)-.  .  .  .  "  the  moment 
of  impact  may  not  be  far  ahead  .  .  .  disappear,  this 
time  finally,  from  the  public  scene  ".  .  .  . 
WILLIAM:  Eh? 

[Montague  appears  in  the  doorway  holding  the  ancient 
revolver  which  Hawkins  offered  previously  to  William.  In 
the  other  hand  he  holds  a  pad.  .  .  .  He  approaches  the 
group  on  the  sofa  stealthily.  Winifred  meanwhile  has 
slowly  pushed  William  back  and  is  sitting  bolt  upright \  her 
stare  curiously  blank} 

[Ann  and  he  look  at  each  other  blankly} 

WINIFRED  (seizing  William  again}'.  That's  when, 
don't  you  see?  Somebody  must  warn  him.  They 
know  he's  going  to  the  coast.  They  know  it's  the 
Green  Man  at  New 

[Montague  has  now  reached  the  back  of  the  sofa,  before 
Winifred  can  say  anything  more  he  suddenly  presses  the 
pad  over  her  mouth  speaking  rapidly  at  the  same  time.} 

MONTAGUE  (to   William  and  Ann):  Get  back   over 

there. 

WILLIAM  (recognising  him) :  Oh  .  .  .  hello.  (To  Ann.) 

Mr.  Bostock. 

MONTAGUE:  Keep  your  mouth  shut. 

[He  waves  them  back  with  the  revolver.  William  does  not 
move  and  Ann  stays  by  his  side.} 

290 


MEET    A    BODY 

WILLIAM  ;  Would  you  mind  explaining  what  the  hell 

is  going  on? 

MONTAGUE:  I  warn  you — I'm  not  in  a  mood  to  stand 

any  nonsense.  One  squawk  out  of  either  of  you  and 

you've  had  it. 

WILLIAM  (to  A.nn) :  An  unoriginal  type  Fm  afraid. 

MONTAGUE:  You  shut  your  mouth! 

[William  suddenly  looks  up  with  bright  surprise  towards 
the  door.} 

WILLIAM  (conversationally):  Oh,  hello  Reginald  old 
boy — come  in. 

[Montague  involuntarily  looks  round^  though  the  revolver 
still  points  directly  at  William.  William  shakes  Ann 
free  and  takes  a  flying  leap  at  Montague.  They  go  down  in 
a  heap  behind  the  sofa  out  of  sight.  There  is  the  sound  of  a 
violent  struggle,,  then  William**  head  appears  momentarily 
above  the  sofa.] 

WILLIAM:  The  bottle!  (Montague's  hand  grabs  William's 
hair,  and  pulls  him  out  of  sight.  Then  William's  head  pops 
up  again.")  The  bottle! 

[Montague  grabs  him  again  and — he  disappears  with  a 
jerk — more  sounds  of  violence ,  then  a  hand  appears.  .Ann 
puts  the  whisky  bottle  in  //,  //  is  swept  down  and  followed 
by  a  thud.  Then  William  rises  slowly,  bottle  in  hand^  much 
dishevelled.} 

WILLIAM  :  Oh  well — we  got  a  double  out  of  it  after 

all.   (Picking  up  the  pad.)   Chloroform.   Well,  this  is  a 

fine  state  of  affairs. 

ANN:  I  wonder  what  she  meant. 

WILLIAM:  We  might  persuade  him  to  tell  us — if  he 

comes  round. 

291 


ACT    TWO,    SCENE    TWO 

ANN:  No,  no.  This  time  we  really  must  call  the  police, 
WILLIAM:  And  tell  them  what? 
ANN  :  That  somebody  is  after  Sir  Gregory.   Remem 
ber  what  she  said — the  moment  of  impact  might  not 
be  far  ahead. 

WILLIAM:  And  something  or  other  is  going  off  at 
10.48? 

ANN:  That's  right. 

WILLIAM:  Can  you  imagine  the  reaction  of  the 
average  copper  if  we  told  him  that"*  We'd  spend  the 
night  in  the  looney-bin! 

[He  moves  to  the  door.,  putting  on  his  hatl\ 

ANN:  Where  are  you  going? 

WILLIAM:  Fm  driving  down  there  in  my  car. 

ANN:  Where? 

WILLIAM:  To  the  place  she  said.  The  Green  Man  at 

New. 

ANN:  New? 

WILLIAM:  New.  .  .  .  Yes,  that's  a  point. 

ANN:  That's  what  I  was  thinking. 

WILLIAM:  What  we  need  is  a  map. 

ANN:  I  think  there's  an  A. A.  book  of  Reginald's 

somewhere. 

[She  crosses  to  the  packing  case  of  books  beside  the  end  of 
the  piano.  As  she  speaks^  Ann  searches  for  the  book.] 

WILLIAM  :  That'll  do  if  you  can  find  one. 

ANN   (searching)'.  The    Green   Man   may   not   have 

meant  a  thing — she  was  half  delirious. 

WILLIAM:  We'll    have    to    chance    that.     She    said 

something  about  the  coast,  so  New-whatever  it  is 

must  be  somewhere  on  the  coast.   And  she  seemed 

to  think  there  was  time  to  get  down  there  by  10.48. 

ANN:  Here's  one. 

292 


MEET    A    BODY 

WILLIAM  (sitting  on  arm  of  chair  down  left) :  Give  it  to 

me — let's  see  what  "  News  "  there  are. 

ANN  (sitting  on  packing  case) :  New  Brighton. 

WILLIAM:  That's  in  Cheshire. 

ANN:  Newbury. 

WILLIAM:  Thafs  not  on  the  coast — and  New  York's 

in  America — so  that  leaves  NewclifFe  and  Newhaven, 

and  that's  the  end  of  the  "  News  ".  Wait  a  minute — 

Newcliffe  .  .  .  London  5  5  miles.    The  Green  Man, 

twelve  stars,  two  beds.    I  mean  twelve  beds,  two 

stars. 

ANN  (pointing  to  another  entry  in  the  book) :  What  about 

Newhaven  ?  They've  got  a  Green  Man  too. 

WILLIAM  :    Newhaven  is  simply  a  port.  Newclifle  is  a 

health  resort. 

ANN:  Well,  it  doesn't  sound  as  if  it  will  be  very 

healthy  there  tonight — that  is,  if  it  is  Newcliffe. 

WILLIAM:  Fifty-five  miles.  I  ought  to  do  it  easily  in 

an  hour  and  a  half. 

ANN:  What  about  these  two?    We  can't  leave  her 

with  him — he  might  come  round  first. 

WILLIAM:  Soon  settle  that.    (He  picks  up  the  pady 

sniffs  it  and  recoils.   Then  he  drops  the  pad  on  Montague's 

face.)    Sleep  well.    (Glances  at  Winifred.)    She  won't 

be  round  for  at  least  an  hour.  (To  Ann.)  Now  then — 

have  you  got  any  rope  ? 

ANN:  No. 

WILLIAM:  Anything  then,  string  .  .  .  picture  cord? 

ANN:  Yes — picture  cord. 

[Ann  takes  a  length  of  cord  out  of  the  packing  case,  and 
takes  it  to  William  >  who  is  holding  Montague3 s  feet  in  the 
air.~\ 

Of  course,  I  still  think  it's  Newhaven. 
WILLIAM:  Well  I'm  not  going  there. 

295 


ACT    TWO,    SCENE    TWO 

\William  starts  to  tie  up  Montague  and  gets  the  cord  round 
Ann's  waist  as  she  supports  Montague's  legs.} 

ANN:  Ouch — you've  got  me! 
WILLIAM:  At  one  time  I  used  to  be  a  Sea  Scout 
and  to  be  a  Sea  Scout  you  have  to  know  how  to  tie 
a  sheepshank,  a  fisherman's  bend,   a  bowline  and 
...  an  old-fashioned  granny.     The  old-fashioned 
granny  is  the  only  one  I  remember. 

[Having  tied  Montague's  feet,  he  lets  them  drop  with  a 
thud  and  proceeds  to  tie  up  his  hands.} 

ANN:  I'm  going  to  change. 

[She  rushes  out  right.  The  rest  of  the  conversation  is 
carried  on  in  shouts — Ann  from  the  next  room  and  William 
from  behind  the  sofa.} 

WILLIAM:  Why? 

ANN:  I'm  coming  with  you. 

WILLIAM  :  Oh  no  you're  not. 

ANN:  You're  taking  me. 

WILLIAM:  I'm  not  taking  any  woman  on  a  trip  like 

this. 

ANN:  There's  no  danger  till  a  quarter  to  eleven — she 

said  so. 

WILLIAM   (satirically}:    And  so  far  it's   been  roses, 

roses  all  the  way. 

ANN:  We're  both  still  here  aren't  we? 

WILLIAM:  Yes.    And  that's  where  you're  staying. 

[He  straightens  up  from  behind  the  sofa.] 

That  ought  to  hold  him  for  a  bit — even  my  old 
skipper  couldn't  untie  my  knots — that's  why  I  left 
the  sea. 
ANN  (of):  What  about  her? 

294 


MEET    A    BODY 

WILLIAM:  I  was  just  thinking  about  her.  1*11  make 
her  a  bit  more  comfortable. 

[H>  lifts  her  on  to  the  sofa.  Ann  reappears,  having 
changed^ 

(JLooks  at  her  admiringly^)  I  say!   If  ever  I  get  hitched 

up  I  hope  my  old  woman  can  change  as  quickly  as 

you  do. 

ANN  (who  is  slightly  confused  by  this)  :  I  didn't  want  you 

to  go  without  me. 

WILLIAM:  But  I  am. 

ANN:  You're  not. 

WILLIAM:  Listen  —  even  if  her  story  is  fifty  per  cent 

nonsense   we've  certainly  no   time  to   stand  here 

arguing.   Besides,  what  would  Reginald  say  ? 

ANN  (gives  him  a  funny  looty:  I'd  forgotten  all  about 

him. 

WILLIAM:  You    couldn't   do   better.    I'm    sorry,    I 

shouldn't  have  said  that.    Goodbye.   (Again  he  turns 

to  go.) 

ANN:  Please  wait. 

[She  hurries  to  the  window  seat  and  from  behind  the  cur 
tains  pulls  out  a  telephone.  William  is  making  for  the 
door  when  he  sees  this  and  turns 


WILLIAM:  I  say  —  you've  got  a  *  phone! 

ANN:  Yes. 

WILLIAM:  Well,  I  couldn't  find  it  when  I  found  the 

body.    Anyway,   you  haven't  moved  in   yet,   I've 

been  on  the  waiting  list  for  one  of  those  for  two  and  a 

half  years. 

ANN  :  Reginald  naturally  has  priority. 

WILLIAM  (under  his  breath)  :  Reginald  has.  .  .  .    Give 

me  strength. 

[She  is  dialling^ 

295 


ACT    TWO,    SCENE    TWO 

ANN  (speaks  into  the  telephone]  \  B.B.C.  ?    Extension 
3ja.   Mr.  WiUoughby-Pratt  please. 
WILLIAM  :  His  not  coming.   That's  definite. 
ANN:  It's  only  fair  to  tell  him  where  we're  going. 
WILLIAM  :  Have  you  a  watch  ? 
ANN:  Not  with  me. 

WILLIAM:  That's    awkward.     Not    even    an   alarm 
clock? 

ANN:  No.   (Nodding  towards  Winifred?)  What  are  you 
going  to  do  with  her? 

WILLIAM:  Don't  worry  about  her — she'll  be  a  nice 
surprise  for  Reginald. 

ANN  (into  telephone):  Reginald?  This  is  Ann.  .  .  . 
Listen  Reginald.  .  .  .  But  I  haven't  rung  you  up  to 
apologise.  .  .  .  I've  something  much  more  im 
portant  to  tell  you.  Reginald,  there  was  a  body  in  the 
piano.  ...  I  know,  but  it  came  back.  .  .  .  I'm  not 
being  absurd.  Listen!  It's  terribly  serious.,  and  I'm 
going  down  to  the  Green  Man  at  Newcliffe  with  Mr. 
Bkke.  .  .  .  Of  course  we'll  be  alone  but  what's  that 
got  to  do  with  it?  ...  Reginald!  (She  turns 
furiously  to  William.}  He's  rung  off! 
WILLIAM:  Good. 

ANN:  I  won't  tell  you  what  he  said. 
WILLIAM:  I  got  a  rough  gist  of  the  conversation. 
ANN  :  How  dare  he  ? 

WILLIAM:  Well,  I  think  that  settles  the  question. 
Burning  to  go.)  Wish  me  luck. 

ANN:  Do  you  think  I'd  stay  here  after  that?    I'm 
ready.  Come  on,  let's  go. 
WILLIAM:  Can  I  ask  you  a  personal  question? 
ANN:  What? 

WILLIAM:  Why  this  sudden  faith  in  me? 
ANN:  Well  it  looks  as  if  you  were  right  after  all. 
WILLIAM  :  It's  taken  two  bodies  to  prove  it. 
ANN:  Besides,  to  be  absolutely  frank — wdl,  any  man 

296 


MEET    A    BODY 

\vho  can  attack  someone  who's  pointing  a  loaded 

revolver  at  him  has  guts. 

WILLIAM:  I'm    sorry    to    disillusion    youa    but    this 

(holding  up  revolver]  was  offered  to  me  by  your  next 

door  neighbour  and  he  assured  me  it  wasn't  loaded. 

ANN:  That's  the  kst  thing  I  expected  of  you. 

WILLIAM:  What? 

ANN:  Modesty. 

WILLIAM  :  You  don't  believe  me  ? 

ANN:  Of  course  not. 

WILLIAM:  'Tis  true,  'tis  pity  and  pity  'tis,  'tis  true! 

[He  points  the  revolver  at  the  ceiling,  presses  the  trigger., 
and  the  gun  goes  off  with  a  hud  report^ 


Curtain. 


ACT   THREE 

Scene:  The  Ear  Parlour  of  the  Green  Man,  Newcliffe. 
Time:  The  same  night,  10.20  p.m. 

The  Green  Man  is  a  small  i%th  century  hotel  standing  on 
the  cliffs  of  the  Sussex  coast.  It  is  very  prosperous  in  its 
way,  doing  a  fair  amount  from  weekenders,  ^.t  the  back 
is  an  open  door  which  leads  into  a  passage  which  runs  off 
into  the  hall.  To  the  left  at  the  back  is  a  flight  of  stairs 
which  lead  to  a  landing  which  goes  off  left,  and  on  the 
landing  is  a  grandfather  clock.,  now  standing  at  10.20. 
Downstage  of  the  stairs  is  an  old-fashioned  radiogram^  on 
top  of  which  is  a  small  portable  set.  The  fireplace  lies  to 
the  right  and  in  front  of  it  is  an  old-fashioned  sofa  covered 
with  flowered  cretonne  material.  On  the  right  at  the  back 
also  are  French  windows  leading  out  on  to  a  small  balcony. 

The  Curtain  rises  to  disclose  Charles  Itoughtflower,  a 
stoutish  middle-aged  man  in  tweeds^  earnestly  checking 
several  pieces  of  paper ^  one  with  another.  The  Landlord,  a 
tall  lank  figure  in  the  middle  fifties.,  enters  at  back  with 
Hawkins.,  who  is  wearing  the  coat  he  put  on  in  Act  17, 
Scene  i,  which  he  discards  as  he  comes  in. 

LANDLORD:  This  way,  sir.  This  is  the  lounge.  If 
you  care  to  glance  out  of  the  window  here  Brighton- 
wards  you  can  see  the  lights  of  the  pier.  Right  on  the 
edge  of  the  cliffs  we  are  here,  sir.  As  a  matter  of 
fact  this  balcony's  famous  in  a  way,  a  gentleman 
threw  himself  off  of  it  last  year.  Doctor  he  was — 
Left  a  note  saying  he  was  taking  the  only  way  out  of 
the  health  service. 

HAWKINS:  Really,  I  quite  sympathise  with  him.   Let 
me  see,  what's  the  time  ? — If  I  have  a  little  supper — 
you  say  it's  ready  ? 
LANDLORD:  Yes,  sir.  It's  cold  I'm  afraid. 

298 


MEET    A    BODY 

HAWKINS  :  Never  mind.  I  suppose  I  can  have  a  drink  ? 

LANDLORD  :  'Fraid  not,  sir.  Bar  closed  at  ten.  Unless 

you're  staying  the  night. 

HAWKINS:  No — er — I  don't  exactly  anticipate  that. 

Never  mind.,  a  cup  of  cocoa  will  do. 

LANDLORD:  Very  good,  sir. 

[Landlord  rings  the  bell  at  the  fireplace^ 

(To  Boughtflower.}  Good  evening,  Mr.  Boughtflower. 
How's  Wardour  Street  ?  Sold  any  good  films  lately  ? 
BOUGHTFLOWER:  I'm  selling  them  in  assorted  sizes 
nowadays — wide,  wider  and  blooming  enormous.  I 
tell  you,  I'm  flogging  Jane  Russell  at  so  much  an 
acre. 

LANDLORD  :  Ah — checking  your  pools  ? 
BOUGHTFLOWER  (grunting):  Umml 
LANDLORD:  Anywhere  near  this  week? 
BOUGHTFLOWER  (shakes  his  head):  I'm  all  right  on 
my  ones  and  twos  but  my  draws  have  let  me  down. 

[Ha&kzns  glances  at  the  radio  right  with  interest  and  crosses 
to  It.  JL//X,  a  buxom  barmaid  in  the  early  thirties,,  enters^ 

LILY:  Did  you  ring,  sir? 

LANDLORD:  Yes,  Lily.  Tell  Tucker  to  get  supper  for 

this  gentleman  and  a  cup  of  cocoa. 

LILY:  O.K. 

[JL//X  goes  out  again.  landlord  notices  Hawkins  examining 
the  radio.] 

LANDLORD:  Interested  in  wireless,  sir? 
HAWKINS  :  Er  yes,  it's  a  hobby  of  mine  in  a  way. 
LANDLORD  (proudly) :  That's  the  kst  word  in  trans- 
portables,  they  tell  me.   Chap  came  round  yesterday 

299 


ACT    THREE 

with  It — said  I  could  have  it  for  a  month  on  trial  free 
— and  if  at  the  end  I  don't  want  it  he'll  take  it  back 
without  charging  a  penny. 
HAWKINS:  That  sounds  fair  enough. 
BOUGHTFLOWER:  Yd    let    him    have    it    back.     It 
crackles. 

HAWKINS:  Probably  some  minor  fault,  you  know. 
Such  things  are  easily  put  right. 

[Lify  re-enters?^ 

LILY  (to  'Landlord]'.  Lady  and  gentleman  waiting  to 
see  you  in  the  hall.   Say  they've  booked. 
LANDLORD:  Ah,  yes.    That'll  be  the  couple  for  the 
big  double.    (To  Hawkins?)    The  dining  room's  in 
there  sir.  (He  points  to  the  door  down  left.) 
HAWKINS:  Thank  you. 

\Hawkins  goes  into  the  dining  room,  the  'Landlord  goes  out 
up  centre.  Lz/y  looks  to  see  that  the  coast  is  clear  then 
turns  to  Boughtflower.] 

LILY  (crossing  to  mantelpiece  for  glasses) :  Had  you"  any 
difficulty  getting  away  Charlie? 
BOUGHTFLOWER:  Like  hell  I  did.  We've  got  to  be 
much  more  careful.  My  wife's  beginning  to  tumble. 
LILY:  I  knew  that  was  coming.  (She  takes  the  glasses  to 
the  hatchway?) 

BOUGHTFLOWER:  Keeps  dropping  hints — harping  on 
a  friend  of  hers  who's  bringing  an  action  for  entice 
ment. 

LILY:  You'll  have  to  watch  your  step,  Charlie,  I 
don't  want  any  trouble.  The  Guvnor  wouldn't  mind, 
but  the  brewers  would. 

BOUGHTFLOWER:  You  know,  it's  me  being  away 
weekends,  puts  ideas  in  her  head. 

300 


MEET    A    BODY 

LILY:  Your  wife  doesn't  expect  you  to  sell  £lms 

sitting  at  home,  does  she  ? 

BOUGHTFLOWER  i  That's  what  I  tell  her.    If  you've 

got  The  Robe  or  Marilyn  Monroe  you  can  afford  to 

sit  on  your  backside  but  what  have  I  got  ? 

LILY  (advancing  and  putting  her  arms  round  his  necfe) : 

You've  got  everything,  Charlie. 

BOUGHTFLOWER  {grinning  at  her  admiringly} :  Well,  I'm 

not  the  only  one. 

LILY:  Still,  you'll  have  to  be  more  careful.    You 

don't  want  her  following  you,  or  any  of  that  caper. 

BOUGHTFLOWER:  Don't  you  worry.    I've  laid  me 

red  herrings  all  right.  I'm  supposed  to  be  staying  in 

Walton-on-the-Naze    this    weekend.     Now,    which 

room  have  I  got?  I'd  like  to  have  a  wash.  (He picks 

up  his  case  from  beside  the  hatch.} 

LILY:  Single  on  the  top  floor,  next  the  Guvnor's. 

BOUGHTFLOWER  (grinning):  I  hope  the  floor  boards 

don't  creak. 

LILY:  They  do,  but  I've  marked  the  creakers  with 

bits  of  paper. 

BOUGHTFLOWER:  Think  of  everything,  don't  you? 

O.K.  kid. 

[He  exits  up  the  stairs.  As  Ulj  turns  to  go  out  the  land 
lord  enters  with  Sir  Gregory  Upshotf.  With  him  is  Joan 
Wood,  a  pretty  but  very  nervous  and  self-conscious  girl  in 
her  twenties.  "Lily  goes  out  up  centre} 

ULNTDLORD:  This  way,  sir.   This  is  the  lounge.   I've 

reserved  a  double  room  for  you  at  the  front.  It's  got 

a  nice  outlook  facing  the  sea,  just  above  this  one. 

SIR  GREGORY:  Splendid. 

LAKTDLORD  :  If  you  care  to  glance  out  of  the  window 

here  Brightonwards,  madam,  you'll  see  the  lights  of 

the  pier. 

SIR  GREGORY:  There's  a  bath  I  take  it? 

301 


ACT    THREE 

LANDLORD:  Just  across  the  landing,  sir. 

SIR  GREGORY  (displeased):  Oh,  I  see.    Hot  and  cold 

water  I  hope  ? 

LANDLORD  :  Well  sir,  Saturday  night  there's  a  bit  of  a 

run,  but  I'll  have  the  boiler  stoked  up  for  you. 

SIR  GREGORY  (even  more  put  ouf) :  We're  not  too  late 

for  supper  by  any  chance  ? 

LANDLORD:  No  sir.  But  I'm  afraid  it's  cold. 

SIR  GREGORY:  Really]    You  know,  you  fellows  will 

have  to  smarten  up  your  ideas  a  bit.    You  won't 

capture  the  foreign  tourists  this  way. 

LANDLORD   (taking  Sir  Gregory's  coat  to  hall-stand  in 

passage}-.  I  don't  want  to  capture  no  foreigners,  sir. 

Fm  quite  happy  with  my  weekend  customers,  thanks 

all  the  same, 

SIR  GREGORY:  Oh!  ...     (he  coughs.)    Hrrrn!    All 

right,  we'll  have  to  have  it  cold. 

LANDLORD:  Yes,  sir.    Something  to  drink  first,  sir? 

SIR  GREGORY:  Drink  ?  Oh  yes,  I'll  have  a  whisky  and 

soda.   (To  Joan.)  What  about  you,  my  dear? 

JOAN:  I  don't  want  anything,  thank  you  very  much. 

\The  Landlord  knocks  on  the  hafch.} 

SIR  GREGORY:  Oh  come,  you  can't  let  me  drink  alone. 

How  about  a  bottle  of  champagne  ? 

JOAN  (intimidated) :  Champagne  ? 

SIR  GREGORY  (to  Landlord) :  Have  you  got  any  ? 

LANDLORD:  I  think  so,  sk. 

SIR  GREGORY:  Any  Pol  Roger? 

LANDLORD  (cautiously)'.  I  don't  remember  the  name, 

sir,  but  Fm  as  good  as  certain  it's  French. 

[.L//X  opens  the  hatch  and  takes  in  the  glasses  on  //.] 

SIR  GREGORY  (giving  it  up):  Oh,  all  right.  Bring  it. 
302 


MEET    A    BODY 

LANDLORD  :  Would  you  care  to  see  the  room  first  ? 
SIR  GREGORY:  The  room?    Oh  yes,  of  course,  the 
room.  (To  Joan.)  Come  along  my  dear. 

[The  Landlord  goes  to  the  foot  of  the  stairs.   Joan  ner 
vously  tugs  at  Sir  Gregory* s  sleeve.] 

JOAN:  Not  now. 

SIR  GREGORY:  What? 

JOAN  :  I'd  rather  stay  here,  if  it's  all  the  same  to  you, 

sir. 

SIR  GREGORY:  Oh.    (Coughs.)    Very  well.    As  you 

please.  We'll  see  the  room  later,  landlord. 

LANDLORD:  Yes,  sir.    Perhaps  you  wouldn't  mind 

signing  the  register  while  I  order  supper. 

SIR  GREGORY:  The  register,  oh  yes.   Quite  so. 

[The  landlord  brings  the  register  across  from  the  halls f  and 
and  puts  it  on  the  table.] 

LANDLORD :  Here  you  are,  sir.  The  dining  room's  in 
there,  sk.  I'll  have  your  luggage  sent  up. 

[He  exits  up  centre.) 

SIR  GREGORY  (be  watches  bin?  go,  then  turns  to  Joan) :  My 

dear  Joan,  you  really  must  try  to  appear  more  at  ease. 

JOAN:  I  don't  feel  at  ease. 

SIR  GREGORY:  Do  you  realise  you  called  me  "  sir  " 

just  now  ? 

JOAN:  Oh  did  I?  I'm  afraid,  Sk  Gregory. 

[She  sits  at  a  table  left  centre.] 

SIR    GREGORY:  There's   no   need   to    call  me   that. 
Just  Gregory  now.   What  are  you  afraid  of? 


ACT    THREE 

JOAN:  I  know  someone  will  recognise  you. 

SIR  GREGORY:  Of  course  they  won't  without  my 

moustache. 

JOAN:  You  look  just  the  same  to  me. 

SIR  GREGORY:  That's  only  because  you  know  me. 

JOAN:  What  about  the  cartoons  ? 

SIR  GREGORY:  Nothing  like  me  at  all. 

JOAN:  You  can't  alter  your  bald  head.    Everyone 

knows  that. 

SIR  GREGORY  (picking  up  his  cap} :  Just  to  please  you 

I'll  put  my  cap  on. 

[Joan  takes  one  look  at  him  and  bursts  into  tears.} 

What's  the  matter? 

JOAN  :  You  can't  keep  it  on  all  the  time. 

SIR  GREGORY:  Now  please  Joan,  don't  be  fanciful. 

No  one  will  look  at  us  or  bother  about  us  in  the 

least.    Just  try  to  forget  convention  and  look  upon 

this  as  an  adventure — a  gay  adventure.    After  all, 

what  is  convention?   I've  travelled  a  lot  and  I  can 

tell  you  it  changes  with  the  latitude.  The  Moslems, 

for   instance,  have   a   totally    different    attitude  to 

latitude.   (He  laughs,,  delighted  with  his  joke?)  Fm  really 

excelling  myself  this  evening. 

JOAN  (flatly)-.  Mother's  not  a  Moslem. 

[Sir  Gregory's  smile  fades  abruptly  I\ 

SIR  GREGORY:  I  do  wish  you  wouldn't  keep  on  about 

your  mother.    Does  she  have  to  be  brought  into 

everything  ? 

JOAN:  I  don't  want  her  brought  into  this. 

SIR  GREGORY  :  You  know,  you've  been  the  same  ever 

since  we  left.    You're  not  the  little  girl  I  knew  in 

London,  that  I  used  to  take  out  for  those  cosy  little 

dinners  in  Charlotte  Street. 

304 


MEET    A    BODY 

JOAN:  This  isn't  a  cosy  little  dinner  in  Charlotte 

Street. 

SIR  GREGORY:  Now  you  don't  want  me  to  wish  I 

hadn't  brought  you  away. 

JOAN  :  I  didn't  want  to  come  anyway. 

SIR  GREGORY:  What? 

JOAN:  It  was  only  because  you  kept  on  at  me. 

SIR  GREGORY:    I  don't  know  how  you  can  say  that, 

Joan.    You  know  I'm  very  fond  of  you  and  I've 

done  everything  I  could  to  please  you. 

JOAN:  Just  because  you  promised  to   put  me  in 

Grade  One 

SIR  GREGORY:  That  was  quite  unconnected  with  this 
trip.  Didn't  I  tell  you  I  wanted  to  encourage  you  to 
be  ambitious — take  responsibility — get  more  ex 
perience. 

JOAN:  — Broaden  my  mind? 

SIR  GREGORY:  That's  right.  (He  coughs  and  goes  on 
hurriedly?)  Now  do  please  try  to  pull  yourself  to 
gether  and  no  more  inhibitions,  eh?  (He  opens  the 
register?)  Now  let's  see  if  we  can  think  of  something 
original  to  write  in  this  book,  shall  we  ?  Any  ideas  ? 

[Joan  shakes  her  bead.] 

Extraordinary  how  one's  mind  becomes  a  blank  with 

all  the  names  in  Christendom  to  choose  from.  Hmm3 

let's   think   of  a  famous   writer.  .  .  .  What  about 

Reade — Charles  Reade? 

JOAN:  I've  never  heard  of  him. 

SIR  GREGORY:  Famous  novelist,  my  dear — he  wrote 

If 3   Never  Too   Lafe   To   Mend.     (Suddenly   realising 

implications.)     Well   nobody   reads   him   nowadays. 

How  about  Fothrington  ? 

JOAN:  It  doesn't  sound  real. 

SIR  GREGORY:  But  it  is.  I  once  knew  a  horse  called 

305 


ACT    THREE 

Fothrington.    Wait  a  minute  though,  we  can't  use 

that. 

JOAN:  Why  not? 

SIR  GREGORY:  I've  just  remembered  I  must  have  put 

a  name  on  the  telegram  I  sent  here. 

JOAN  (alarmed  again] :  Don't  you  know  what  it  was  ? 

SIR   GREGORY:  Hmm,    must   have   put   something. 

James,  that  was  it,  James. 

[Joan  suddenly  bursts  info  tears  again.] 

Now  what  on  earth's  the  trouble  this  time? 

JOAN  (frying)'.  I  used  to  be  engaged  to  a  boy  called 

James. 

\Hawkzns  enters  from  dining  room.  He  hurries  in  carrying 
bis  attache  case  and  pulls  up  short  on  seeing  Sir  Gregory 
and  Joan.] 

SIR  GREGORY  (seeing  Hawkins,  becomes  a  littk  confused) : 
(To  Joan,)    Now,   now  my   dear,   don't  cry,   you 
probably  left  the  watch  in  the  car.    You  haven't 
lost  it  yet. 
JOAN  (dumbly)-.  Haven't  lost  what? 

[Sir  Gregory  bustles  her  into  the  dining  room  in  confusion. 
They  exit.  Hawkins  who  has  been  getting  a  bottle  of 
indigestion  tablets  from  his  coat  pocket  in  the  ball,  watches 
them  go.  He  takes  a  quick  look  out  of  the  door  and  crosses 
swiftly  to  the  radio  on  top  of  the  radiogram.  Qpening  his 
attache  case  he  takes  out  a  short  length  of  flex ',  a  pair  of 
pliers  and  a  small  screwdriver.  He  then  swivels  round  the 
radio  and  opens  its  back  and  deftly  connects  the  flex  to  a 
couple  of  terminals.  He  glances  at  both  his  wrist  watch  and 
the  clock  and  makes  a  swift  adjustment  with  his  screw 
driver  and  has  just  finished  when  Eoughtflower  appears  on 
the  staircase  landing.  He  looks  down  on  Hawkins  curiously^ 

306 


MEET    A    BODY 

BOUGHTFLOWER  :  Trying  to  fix  that  crackle  ? 

\Hawkzns  looks  up  surprised,  but  he  quickly  takes  ad 
vantage  of  Bougbtflower*  s  words.] 

HAWKINS:  Ah  yes,  I  told  you,  wireless  was  a  hobby 
of  mine.  (Laughing.}  I'm  afraid  I'm  one  of  those 
people  who  can't  see  any  mechanism  without  wanting 
to  tinker  with  it.  I  expect  you've  met  them, 

[He  gives  a  careful  last  look  inside  the  radio  and  closes  it.} 

BOUGHTFLOWER  (nodding  as  he  comes  downstairs}'.  The 

wife's  father's  just  the  same.  Can't  keep  his  hands  off 

the  television.  Result  is,  we  see  everything  through  a 

rainstorm, 

HAWTKINS:  Yes,   I   know.     Sometimes   fellows   like 

him  and  me  make  the  whole  place  quite  untenable  — 

in  one  way  or  another.    (Switching  on  radioy  tuning  in 

to  dance  music?)    Doesn't  seem  to  be  much  crackle 

about  that. 

BOUGHTFLOWER:  It   certainly   seems    to   be   better. 

Finished  your  supper  already  ? 

HAWKINS:  No.    I  came  back  to  get  my  indigestion 

tablets,  really. 

BOUGHTFLOWER:  It's    usually   that   sort   of  supper 

here.     (Crossing  to  window.)     Still,   you   can't  have 

everything,  can  you?    If  you  look  Brightonwards 

you  can  see  the  lights  of  the  pier. 

HAWKINS:  So  I  gathered.   Well,  back  to  the  feast  — 

cold  rabbit  pie  and  cocoa.  I'll  see  you  kter  perhaps. 

BOUGHTFLOWER:  Yes.  I'll  still  be  here. 

HAWKINS  (drily)  :  I  hope  so. 

[He  exits.  Bougbtflower  steps  out  on  to  the  balcony.  Ulj 
enters  with  William 


3°7 


ACT    THREE 

LILY:  If  you  don't  mind  waiting  here,  sir,  I'll  fetch 
the  Guv'nor. 

[William  has  glanced  round  the  room  quickly  and  spotted 
the  grandfather  clock  which  now  shows  10.27.] 

WILLIAM  :  Is  that  clock  right  ? 

LILY:  It's  always  right  Saturday  night.,  sir. 

ANN:  Why  Saturday? 

LILY:  Well,  you  see,  it  loses  ten  minutes  a  week,  so 

the  guv'nor  puts  it  on  ten  minutes  every  Saturday 

and  by  the  end  of  the  week  it's  back  with  Big  Ben,  so 

to  speak. 

WILLIAM  :  So  long  as  you're  sure  that's  the  right  time. 

LILY  (glancing  at  her  watcft)  :  Bang  on,  sir. 


WILLIAM  (at  once  becoming  active)  :  It  won't  be  the  only 
thing  that's  bang  on  if  we  don't  get  cracking.  We've 
exactly  twenty-one  minutes. 
ANN  :  What  are  you  going  to  do  ? 
WILLIAM  :  Have  a  look  at  the  register. 
ANN  :  What  about  telling  the  landlord  ? 
WILLIAM:  Let's  see  if  Upshotfs  here  first. 
LILY  (off)  :  They're  in  the  parlour,  Mr.  Masters. 

[Landlord  enters.} 

LANDLORD:  Evening,  sir. 

WILLIAM:  Good  evening. 

LANDLORD:  Evening,    madam.     Lovely   night.     If 

you're  wanting  a  double  room  I'm  afraid  we  haven't 

one  left.  It's  always  a  bit  of  a  rush  weekends  this 

time  of  the  year. 

WILLIAM:  Have  you  any  singles  ? 

508 


MEET    A    BODY 

LANDLORD:  I've  only  one  free,  sir.  Bit  on  the  small 
side,  too. 

WILLIAM:  Oh.  Suppose  we'll  have  to  manage  with 
that.  (To  Ann.)  Won't  we,  my  dear? 

[Ann  chokes  and  starts  to  speak.  William  fixes  her 
quickly  with  a  look.} 

I  know  it's  a  bit  of  a  blow,  but  there's  nothing  else 
for  it. 

[He  winks  at  Ann} 

LANDLORD:  Mind  you,  the  bed's  on  the  big  side  for 
a  single.  There's  a  nice  outlook.  If  you  care  to  gknce 
out  of  the  window  Brightonwards  you'll  see  the 
lights  of  the  pier. 
ANN  (suddenly  bursting  out  at  William) :  If  you  think. 

! 

WILLIAM:  Please,  dear.  I  know  it's  a  nuisance,  but 
after  all  I  did  suggest  sending  a  wire.  (To  'Landlord). 
Can  we  have  the  register? 

LANDLORD:  Yes,  sir.    Here  you  are.    Will  you  be 
taking  supper? 
WILLIAM  :  I  don't  know  yet. 
LANDLORD  :  The  dining  room's  in  there,  sir. 
WILLIAM  :  Thank  you. 

\L,andlord  exits.   Ann  instantly  rounds  on  William.} 

ANN:  How  dare  you  say  we're  staying  the  night? 

WILLIAM  :  Quickest  way  to  get  the  register. 

ANN:  There  was  absolutely  no  need  to  suggest  we 

were  going  to — to  stop  here. 

WILLIAM:  No  one  will  stop  here  if  we  don't  get 

down  to  brass  tacks.    (Glances  again  at  clock.)    Only 

twenty  minutes  to  find  what  is  going  to  go  off. 

ANN  :  If  anything  is. 

309 


ACT    THREE 

WILLIAM:  She  said  so,  didn't  she? 

ANN:  It  might  have  been  a  figure  of  speech  and  it 

might  have  been  Newhaven. 

WILLIAM  (looking  in  dining  room  door) :  I  tell  you,  this 

Is  the  pkce  and  10.48  is  the  time. 

ANN:  Then   why    not    get    on    with    it    instead   of 

arguing  ? 

WILLIAM  :  I —  (controls  himself)  all  right. 

[He  starts  to  search  the  register.  Ann  looks  over  his 
shoulder.} 

ANN:  What  are  you  looking  for? 
WILLIAM:  Upshott. 

ANN:  She  said  he  was  using  another  name. 
WILLIAM:  I  know,  I  know.  .  .  .  Here  we  are  .  .  . 
(reading)    Mr.    and    Mrs.    Alec    Morrison,    Charles 
Boughtflower,  Mr.  and  Mrs.  John  Smith,  Mr.  and 
Mrs.  Victor  Jones,  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Tom  Smith,  Mr. 
and  Mrs.  E.  Smith,  Mr.  and  Mrs.  F.  Smythe.  .  .  . 
Gosh,  that  fellow  showed  imagination! 
ANN:  All  British  subjects,  but  Charles  Boughtflower 
is  the  only  one  staying  here  on  his  own. 
WILLIAM  :  And  that's  a  fake  name  in  any  nationality. 
ANN:  Unless  Sir  Gregory  isn't  on  his  own. 
WTLLIAM:  That's    hardly    likely.     Have    you    ever 
seen  him? 

ANN:  No.  Have  you? 

WILLIAM:  No.  But  I'm  sure  I've  seen  his  photo 
graph  in  the  paper,  and  my  impression  is  he's  at 
least  sixty,  fairly  tall,  bald,  and  with  a  grey  moustache. 
ANN:  That's  curious,  because  my  impression  is  quite 
different. 

WILLIAM:  Oh — is  it? 

ANN:  I  should  say  he's  not  more  than  forty  two  or 
three,  dark,  clean-shaven  and  rather  stout. 

310 


MEET    A    BODY 

WILLIAM  :  We  can't  both  be  right. 
ANN:  I  wasn't  suggesting  that  for  a  moment. 
WILLIAM:  I  know  it's  a  lot  to  ask,  but  do  you  think 
there's  a  six  to  four  chance  of  our  agreeing  to  differ  ? 
ANN  (shrugs) :  If  you  like.  I  don't  mind. 
WILLIAM:  Then  I'll  go  and  look  for  my  version. 

[Starts  off  towards  the  door.] 

ANN:  How? 

WILLIAM  :  By  getting  the  landlord  to  introduce  me  to 

Boughtflower. 

ANN  :  And  what  do  I  do  ? 

WILLIAM:  Look  for  whatever  it  is  that's  going  to  go 

off. 

ANN:  Where? 

WILLIAM  :  How  do  I  know  ?  Why  not  start  with  the 

clock?    That's  a  popukr — wait  a  minute,  he  said 

he  was  a  clockmaker.  .  .  . 

ANN:  Who? 

WILUAM:  Stand  back. 

[He  approaches  the  clock  warily  and  nerves  himself  to 
whip  open  the  door.  The  moment  the  door  opens,  the  clock 
loudly  strikes  the  half  hour.  William  jumps  back  as  Ann 
gives  a  little  scream.  William  signs  her  to  be  quiet,  and 
sticks  his  head  inside  the  clock  case.,  peering  upwards.] 

WILLIAM  (withdrawing  head} :  Looks  normal  enough  to 
me.  My  God,  look  at  the  time! 

[He  starts  hurriedly  for  the  door.] 

ANN:  Where  else? 

WILLIAM  (impatiently) :  Anywhere  you  think.  Use 
your  imagination.  Under  the  sofa — behind  that 
picture — up  the  chimney — in  the  aspidistra.  Yes, 
that's  an  idea — the  aspidistra. 


ACT    THREE 

[He  is  looking  at  an  aspidistra  plant  by  his  elbow,  near  the 
stairs.  He  picks  it  upy  dives  his  hand  into  the  pot  and  pulls 
out  the  aspidistra  by  the  roots.  As  he  is  searching  the 
inside  of  the  pot  with  the  'other  hand  the  Landlord  enters.] 

LANDLORD:  Beg  pardon,  sir,  but  have  you  brought 
any 

[He  stops  short,  his  eyes  glued  on  the  aspidistra  in  Williartfs 
hand] 

ANN  (to  William}:  The  landlord. 
WILLIAM:  Nothing   doing  ...  eh?     (Seeing  Land 
lord.)  We're  looking  for  a  man  about  sixty,  bald  with 
a  grey  moustache.  .  .  . 

ANN  (quickly):  Dark,  clean-shaven,  and  not  more 
than  forty-three. 

WILLIAM:  It's  a  matter  of  national  importance. 
LANDLORD  (taking  the  aspidistra  and  flower  pot  from 
William):  My  mother  planted  that. 

[He  exits  mumbling] 

WILLIAM:  What's  the  use  of  talking  to  a  fellow 

like  that?  It's  a  waste  of  time.   Keep  on  looking. 

I'll  go  and  find  Boughtfiower  myself. 

ANN  (staring  towards  the  French  windows):  There's  a 

man  out  there  on  the  balcony. 

WILLIAM:  Where? 

[Ann  points.  Willla?n  goes  closer  to  the  window  and  looks 
out] 

Doesn't  look  like  him.  Not  in  those  tweeds. 
ANN:  It  could  be.  After  all,  he  is  in  the  country. 
WILLIAM:  By  himself,  too. 

312 


MEET    A    BODY 

ANN:  And  smoking  a  cigar. 
\They  stare  at  him  hopefully.} 

Look  out,  he's  coming  in. 
WILLIAM:  I'd  better  handle  this. 

\Bougfitflomr    enters  from    French    windows^    William 
crosses  to  him  at  once] 

Good  evening,  sir.  D'you  happen  to  be  Mr.  Charles 
Boughtfiower? 

\Boughtflomr  pulls  up  with  a  start.] 

BOUGHTFLOWER  :  I  don't  know  you,  do  I  ? 

WILLIAM  :  No.  But  we  know  you,  sir. 

BOUGHTFLOWER.  (at  once  suspicious) :  Eh  ? 

ANN  (to  William) :  You  see,  I  was  right.   (To  Bougbt- 

flower}  You're  here  incognito,  aren't  you  ? 

BOUGHTFLOWER:  In  what? 

WILLIAM:  We've  followed  you  all  the  way  from 

London. 

BOUGHTFLOWER     (alarmed):     Followed      me?  .  .  . 

(backing)  What's  the  idea? 

WILLIAM  :  WeVe  been  given  certain  information.  .  . 

BOUGHTFLOWER:  Oh,   you   have,   have    you?  .  .  . 

(Indicating  Ann?)  Is  she  with  you? 

WILLIAM:  Yes,  but 

BOUGHTFLOWER:  Two  of  you,  eh? 

ANN  (impulsively) :  You're  not  safe  here. 

BOUGHTFLOWER  (bitterly) :  No,  you  bet  your  life  I'm 

not.   Oh  well,  I  had  this  mm  ing  to  me.   (He  sits  on 

the  sofa.} 

ANN:  You  mean  you  knew  all  about  it? 

BOUGHTFLOWER:  I  had  a  damned  good  idea. 

313 


ACT    THREE 

WILLIAM  (to  Ami):  Well,  I  suppose  it's  one  of  the 
risks  of  "  Mr.  Boughtflower's  "  profession. 

\Bougbtflawer  takes  this  in  a  big  way] 

BOUGHTFLOWER:  Risks  ?     (Cunningly?)     What   proof 

have  you  got  anyway. 

WILLIAM  :  Well,  sir,  the  evidence  is  pretty  conclusive. 

BOUGHTFLOWER  (bursting  out) :  I'm  not  caught  yet,  if 

that's  what  you  mean. 

WILLIAM:  That's  the  spirit,  sk. 

BOUGHTFLOWER  (pulled) :  What  ? 

WILLIAM:  Now  listen,  sk — there's  absolutely  no  time 

to  lose — as  I  expect  you  realise.   How  soon  can  you 

get  out  of  here  ? 

BOUGHTFLOWER:  Get  out? 

WILLIAM:  You  haven't  a  second. 

BOUGHTFLOWER  (narrowing  his  eyes):  Whose  side  are 

you  on? 

WILLIAM:  Need  you  ask  that,  sk? 

BOUGHTFLOWER  :  I  don't  know  what  you  get  out  of 

this,  but  I  can  take  a  tip  when  I'm  handed  one! 

1*11  get  my  case. 

[He  hurries  to  the  stairs] 

WILLIAM:  For  heaven's  sake,  hurry! 
BOUGHTFLOWER  (mounting  stairs] :  You  bet ! 

[He  pauses  briefly  halfway  up  the  stairs.,  and  sticks  his 
head  over  the  banisters.} 

So  the  old  girl  thought  she'd  get  me,  did  she? 

[He  rushes  0#,  leaving  William  and  ^.nn  slightly  mystified.] 

WILLIAM:  Old  girl?    Must  be  a  woman  behind  it 
somewhere. 


MEET    A    BODY 

ANN:  So  it  was  NewclifFe,  after  all.   You  win. 

WILLIAM:  Not  yet.    We've  picked  up  the  ace,  but 

there's  still  the  joker. 

ANN:  The  what? 

WILLIAM  :  The  box  of  tricks.  Keep  on  looking. 

ANN:  Where  are  you  going? 

WILLIAM:  We've  got  to  clear  everyone  out  of  the 

whole  place.    Now  we've  found  Sir  Gregory  I'll  be 

able  to  knock  some  sense  into  the  landlord. 

[He  runs  out.} 

ANN  (catling  after  him} :  Oh,  Mr.  Bkke  .  .  .  Bill  .  .  . 
supposing  it  goes  off  too  soon? 

\She  searches  frantically  round  the  sofa  and  fireplace  then 
runs  to  the  door  and  almost  bumps  into  Lily,  who  stares 
at  her  curiously^ 

LILY:  Your  name  Vincent? 

ANN:  Yes. 

LILY  :  There's  a  man  on  the  'phone  wants  to  speak  to 

you.   Toll  call. 

ANN  (da^ed):  A  man? 

LILY:  Sounds   like  your  father.     I  haven't  let   on 

you're  here,  mind.  Like  me  to  tell  him  there's  no  one 

here  of  your  description  ? 

ANN  :  No,  no — I'll  speak  to  him. 

LILY:  All  right — the  'phone's  through. 

\S he  points  to  telephone  which  is  on  a  table  in  front  of  the 
hatch,  and  exits.  Ann  crosses  to  it  and  picks  up  the 
instrument.  Bar  door  optns  and  Landlord  enters  with 
another  plant  in  a  pot.] 

ANN  (telephone} :  Hullo  ,  .  .  hullo.  .  .  . 
315 


ACT    THREE 

[Landlord  notices  Ann,  sniffs^  crosses  to  aspidistra  stand 
and  puts  new  plant  in  //.] 

Who  is  it?   Reginald!  .  .  .  Yes  of  course  I'm  here. 
.  .  .  Yes,     he's     here,     too.  .  .  .  Reginald!  .  .  . 
Really!  .  .  .  What  are  you  suggesting?  .  .  . 

\Rjsginald  is  obviously  doing  all  the  talking.  The  Landlord 
has  one  eye  on  Ann.,  who  has  her  back  to  himl\ 

[Angrily.}  What?  ...  I  don't  know  how  you  can 
say  things  like  that.  .  .  .  Do  you  think  we  came 
down  here  fox  fan? 

\The  clock  is  now  0/10.33.] 

.  .  .  What  on  earth  do  you  mean?  .  .  . 

\]Landlord  gives  her  another  look,  then  takes  out  watch  and 
compares  it  with  the  grandfather  clock,  puts  the  clock  on 
ten  minutes  to  10.43.] 

...  So  you  don't  believe  me  ?  ...  In  other  words 
I'm  a  liar?  ...  I  tell  you  I  haven't  anything  to 
conceal!  .  .  .  I'm  not  talking  to  you  any  longer.  I 
tell  you  one  thing — Mr.  Blake's  got  more  guts  in  his 
little  finger  .  .  .  oh,  good-byel 

\William  has  come  hurrying  hack  in  time  to  hear  Ann's 
last  words  and  see  her  ring  off,  Landlord  is  on  the  stair 
landing.  William  spots  him^\ 

WILLIAM:  Ah,  Landlord,  there  you  are.     This    is 
important.  You  remember  I  asked  you  about  a  man 
just  now? 
LANDLORD:  I  remember. 


MEET    A    BODY 

WILLIAM:  We've  just  found  him.   He's  Sk  Gregory 

Upshott. 

ANN:  That's  right.  Registered  in  the  name  of  Charles 

Boughtflower. 

LANDLORD:  What  name? 

ANN:  Boughtflower. 

LANDLORD:  I  see. 

WILLIAM  :  Incredible  though  it  may  seem,  we  believe 

that  an  attempt  is  going  to  be  made  here  tonight  to 

assassinate  him. 

LANDLORD:  I  see. 

WILLIAM:  As  far  as  we  can  make  out  they've  pknted 

some  kind  of  explosive  somewhere  on  the  premises 

and  we're  expecting  it  to  go  up  at  10.48. 

LANDLORD:  I  see. 

WILLIAM:  Don't  keep  saying  "  I  see "  like  that. 

Can't  you  understand — everyone  in  the  hotel's  in 

mortal  danger! 

LANDLORD:  ")_       . 
>I  see! 
WILLIAM:      J 

WILLIAM:  You've  got  to  get  everybody  out  of  here — 

now  I 

LANDLORD   (deliberately):  I  don't  know  how  many 

you've  had  but  one  thing  I  do  know — you  never 

had  'em  here. 

ANN:  But  it's  going  to  go  off! 

WILLIAM:  Look,  let  me  put  this  in  terms  even  you 

can  understand — do  you  want  to  lose  your  pub? 

LANDLORD:  I  don't  want  to  lose  my  licence.   I'm  a 

broadminded  man,  but  Fm  not  very  partial  to  people 

who  can't  hold  their  liquor — especially  if  they  bought 

it  elsewhere. 

[He  exits  centre^ 

ANN  (wails):  Now  what  are  we  going  to  do? 


ACT    THREE 

WILLIAM  :  Rouse  the  whole  place  while  there's  time ! 

ANN:  How? 

WILLIAM:  Beat  that  gong. 

[He  runs  to  a  dinner  gong  near  the  entrance  to  the  dining 
room,  picks  up  the  stick  and  is  about  to  give  it  a  good 
whack  when  Boughtflomr  comes  hurrying  down  the  stairs 
carrying  a  suitcase.  Ann  sees  himl\ 

ANN:  Bill — look!   Get  Sir  Gregory  to  tell  him. 
WILLIAM:  Right.   Listen,  sir!    You  must  talk  to  the 
landlord  and  make  him  undertsand  that  everyone  else 
has  got  to  clear  out,  too. 

BOUGHTFLOWER :    Eh? 

WILLIAM:  They're  in  danger  as  well — but  of  course 

you  know  that. 

BOUGHTFLOWER:  What's  this? 

WILLIAM:  You've  got  to  knock  some  sense  into  that 

landlord. 

ANN:  He  refuses  to  believe  you're  Sir  Gregory. 

BOUGHTFLOWER:  Sir  which? 

WILLIAM  :  Sir  Gregory  Upshott. 

BOUGHTFLOWER:  Who  is? 

ANN:          ^ 

>•  You  are. 
WILLIAM:  j 

[Boughtflower  stares  at  them  blankly.} 

WILLIAM  (assailed  by  a  horrible  doubt) :  .  .  .  Aren't  you  ? 
BOUGHTFLOWER:  What   d'you   mean?    I'm  Charlie 
Boughtflower — always  have  been. 
WILLIAM:  My  God,  I  believe  he  is! 
BOUGHTFLOWER:  Here — what's  the  game? 
ANN:  We  thought  you  were  Sir  Gregory. 
BOUGHTFLOWER:  You  mean  you  mistook  me  for  Sir 
Gregory  Upshott? 

318 


MEET    A    BODY 

WILLIAM  :  Do  you  know  him  ? 

BOUGHTFLOWER  :  I've  seen  him  once. 

WILLIAM:  Where? 

BOUGHTFLOWER:  At    Newmarket,    leading    in    his 

horse. 

WILLIAM:  Would  you  know  him  again? 

BOUGHTFLOWER:  No,  he  was  the  other  side  of  the 

horse.   Here — what  is  all  this  anyway? 

WILLIAM  :  It's  a  matter  of  life  and  death.    Please  try 

to  help.  We  think  he's  staying  here. 

BOUGHTFLOWER  :  If  he  Is,  I  haven't  seen  him  and  I've 

seen  most  of  'em  since  I  got  here. 

ANN:  Oh,  dear.  .  .  . 

BOUGHTFLOWER:  Wait. a  minute.  ...  I  met  a  chap 

upstairs  just  now  going  into  the  .  .  .  bathroom. 

WILLIAM  :  What's  he  like  ? 

BOUGHTFLOWER:  I  dunno — he  was  the  other  side  of 

the  door. 

WILLIAM  :  Is  he  still  up  there  ? 

BOUGHTFLOWER:  I    suppose    so — only    went    in    a 

couple  of  minutes  ago. 

[William  promptly  dashes  for  the  stairs.] 

(Suddenly   recollecting.)     Here — where    does    my    old 
woman  come  into  this? 
WILLIAM:  She  doesn't. 
BOUGHTFLOWER:  What? 

[The  time  now  says  10.47  Ann  looks  at  the  clock  and  lets 
out  a  scream  of  alarm.    William  stops  and  turns] 

ANN:  The  time!   Look  at  the  time! 
[William  looks  at  clock.} 
WILLIAM:  My  God! 

3*9 


ACT    THREE 

[He  takes  a  flying  leap  down  the  stairs  up  to  Ann  and  the 
bewildered  Bought/lower*] 

BOUGHTFLOWER  :  Will  somebody  tell  me  what  the 
hell's  going  on? 

WILLIAM:  There's  something  somewhere  in  this 
building  that's  going  off  at  10.48. 

BOUGHTFLOWER:   Eh? 

WILLIAM:  It's  intended  for  Upshott,  most  likely  a 
bomb,  but  if  we  don't  get  out  of  here  damned  quick 
we'll  all  be  blown  to  blazes. 
BOUGHTFLOWER:  Blimey  O'Reilly! 

[He  dashes  outl\ 

WILLIAM:  Oh  my  God — look  at  the  time,,  10.48! 
Under  the  table.  Quick! 

[He  and  Ann  dive  under  the  table  left  centre.  The  'Land 
lord  enters  up  centre  ivith  a  tray  of  champagne  and  glasses. 
Seeing  William  and  Ann  crouched  under  the  table,,  he  starts 
and  bolts  for  the  dining  room  door  lest  their  obvious  insanity 
should  fake  a  violent  turn.  In  his  haste  he  drops  his  tray 
with  a  crash  in  the  dining  room.] 

ANN  (re-emerging):  Of  course  I  did  mention  it  might 
be  the  Green  Man,  Newhaven. 
WILLIAM:  Nonsense! 

[Nevertheless  be  crosses  to  telephone  and  lifts  receiver^ 

(Telephone^  I  want  the  Green  Man,  Newhaven.   Do 
you  happen  to  know  the  number?   What?  Good — 
thank  you.  Will  you  connect  me? 
ANN:  There's  scarcely  any  point  in  calling  them  up 
now.,  surely.  Why  not  wait  for  the  morning  papers  ? 

320 


MEET    A    BODY 

WILLIAM:  It's      ringing.  .  .  .  (Telephone.}       Hullo? 

...  Is  that  the  Green  Man,  Newhaven  ?  .  .  .  Oti — 

er — are    you    still   there?  .  .  .  you    are?  .  .  .  Oh, 
well — er — good  night. 

[He  hangs  up.} 

They're  still  there.   Something's  slipped. 

ANN  :  Things  seem  to  have  a  habit  of  slipping  with 

you. 

WILLIAM  :  You  heard  what  that  girl  said.  It  was  to  go 

off  at  10.48. 

ANN  :  You  may  remember  I  did  suggest  it  might  only 

be  a  figure  of  speech. 

WILLIAM:  Don't    be    ridiculous.      How    could     a 

figure  of  speech  endanger  his  life  ? 

ANN  :  Well  then,  we've  come  at  the  right  time  on  the 

wrong  day. 

WILLIAM:  What  do  you  suggest — that  we  keep  on 

coming  down  here  until  something  .  .  .  blows  up  ? 

ANN:  I  don't  know  why  I  let  myself  be  talked  into 

coming  here  in  the  first  pkce. 

WILLIAM  :  What !  I  suppose  you  think  I  arranged  all 

this  just  to  sell  you  a  vacuum  cleaner. 

ANN:  Nothing  you  did  would  surprise  me. 

WILLIAM   (complacently):  I   admit  I   have   a   certain 

quality  of  unexpectedness.  (Coughs.)  Unlike  Reginald. 

ANN:  He  'phoned  up  just  now. 

WILLIAM  :  I  know.  I — er — caught  the  tail  end  of  the 

conversation. 

ANN  (quickly) :  Did  you  ? 

WILLIAM:  Yes.   You  gave  me  quite  a  nice  build-up. 

ANN:  I  think  it's  time  we  started  back. 

[She  gets  up.] 

WILLIAM:  Oh — wouldn't  you  like  one  for  the  road? 
I  would. 

i!  321 


ACT    THREE 

ANN  (smiling) :  All  right. 

[He  crosses  to  the  hatchway  to  bar  and  raps  on  it.   Hatch 
way  slides  up  and  the  Landlord  looks  through.] 

WILLIAM  :  Can  we  have  a  drink  ? 
LANDLORD:  No. 

[He  slams  down  the  hatchway.    William  raps  again.    It 
slides  up  once  more.} 

WILLIAM:  Two  to  Charing  Cross. 
LANDLORD:  Eh? 

WILLIAM  :  Could  we  have  a  couple  of  dry  gingers  ? 
LANDLORD  (astonished) :  Dry  gingers  ? 
WILLIAM:  Well,  we'll  have  a  dash  of  gin  in  them,  if 
you  absolutely  insist.   We  are  sadly  changed  charac 
ters,  landlord.   Sober  to  a  fault. 
LANDLORD  :  No  more  fiinny  business  ? 
WILLIAM:  No  more  funny  business.  Cross  my  heart. 

[He  closes  hatch.    William  moves  back  to  ^Ann.} 

WILLIAM:  He'll — er — think  about  it. 

ANN:  What  time  will  we  get  back  to  town,  Mr. 

Bkke? 

WILLIAM:  About  12.30,  Miss  Vincent. 

[Pause.} 

WILLIAM:  Tell  me,  how  far  have  things  gone  with 

you  and  Reginald? 

ANN:  What  do  you  mean? 

WILLIAM:  Anybody  called  any  banns  yet? 

ANN:  If  you  want  to  know,  they  have. 

WILLIAM:  Oh. 

[Slight  pause.} 

322 


MEET    A    BODY 

ANN:  Once. 

WILLIAM  (brightens) :  One  up  and  two  to  play.  Might 

be  worse. 

ANN:  I  can't  see  that  it's  anything  to  do  with  you. 

WILLIAM:  Can't  you? 

ANN:  I  only  met  you  this  evening. 

WILLIAM:  I  know,  but  hasn't  it  been  fun? 

ANN:  You've  got  a  strange  idea  of  fun.  .  .  .  Besides, 

I  don't  go  back  on  my  word. 

WILLIAM  :  You  haven't  given  me  the  only  reason  that 

matters.  Are  you  in  love  with  htm? 

ANN:  Why  do  you  think  I'm  marrying  him? 

WILLIAM:  I   can't  think  of  any  really   satisfactory 

reason.    Can  you  honestly  tell  me  that  your  heart 

beats  any  faster  when  he  says,  "  Here  is  the  forecast 

for  shipping  "  ? 

ANN:  What  is  all  this  leading  up  to ? 

WILLIAM:  Me. 

ANN:  Don't  be  ridiculous.   We've  only  known  each 

other  a  couple  of  hours  and  we  haven't  agreed  once. 

WILLIAM:  On  what  firmer  basis  could  a  marriage  of 

two  minds  be  built? 

\The  Landlord  enters  from  bar  with  tn*o  drinks  on  a  tray 
and  puts  them  down  in  front  of 'them '.] 

LANDLORD:  Two  gin  and  dry  gingers. 

WILLIAM  :  You've  come  just  in  time. 

LANDLORD  :  Eh  ?  That'll  be  five  shillings,  please. 

WILLIAM  (giving  it  to  him}:  Keep  the  change. 

LANDLORD:  Thank  you,   sir.    Mind  if  I  turn  the 

radio  on  ?  We  like  a  bit  of  music  on  Saturday  nights. 

\WiUiam  and  Ann  don't  mind  so  the  Landlord  crosses  and 
turns  on  the  portable  and  exits  centre} 

ANN:  What  did  you  mean,  he  was  just  in  time? 
WILLIAM:  Just  too  late. 

5*3 


ACT    THREE 

[A  ILadio  Announcer's  voice  is  heard.  The  clock  now 
shows  10.52.] 

RADIO  ANNOUNCER:  .  .  .  Other  parts  were  pkyed 
by  Hazel  Warris,  Percival  Hermes  and  Guy  Hamilton. 
The  play  adapted  for  broadcasting  by  Edward  Scaife 
and  produced  by  Ernest  Steward.  .  .  .  The  time  is 
exactly  10.42. 

\William  reacts,  nearly  choking  over  his  drink.} 

RADIO  ANNOUNCER  :  The  next  part  of  the  programme 

follows  at  10.45. 

WILLIAM  (to  Landlord.,  who  is  re-entering):  Landlord! 

That  clock  I  Have  you  altered  it? 

LANDLORD:  Of  course.  Put  it  on  ten  minutes. 

[The  radio  starts  to  play  an  interim  record  of  the  Chopin 
in  Aflat  Major,  Op.  69,  No.  i.] 


WILLIAM:  My  God. 

ANN  (wails)  :  We've  still  got  six  minutes  to  go  ! 

WILLIAM:  Six  minutes! 

[He  makes  d  blind  dash  for  the  stairs,  watched  in  a  dumb 
founded  way  by  the 


ANN:  Where  are  you  going? 

WILLIAM:  Upshott! 

ANN:  Where? 

WILLIAM:  First  floor  —  in  the  bathroom! 

[He  disappears  from  sight.  The  Landlord  now  turns  back, 
deliberately  picks  up  the  two  drinks,  and  puts  them  back 
on  the  tray,  marching  purposefully  back  into  the  bar  and 
slamming  down  the  hatchway.  Ann  is  searching  feverishly 


MEET    A    BODY 

behind  the  window  curtains  for  the  bomb.  'Lily  enters  with 
two  glasses  of  Lager  on  a  traj.~\ 

LILY:  Miss  Vincent? 

ANN:  Yes? 

LILY:  He's  on  the  'phone  again. 

ANN:  Who? 

LILY  :  Your  father.   I've  put  you  through. 

[Lily  exits  to  dining  room.    Ann  crosses  impatiently  to 
telephone  and  picks  it  up.] 
* 

ANN  (hurriedly)'.  Hello?  Yes.  .  .  .  Listen,  Reginald 
— I  can't  talk  now — there's  no  time.  .  .  ,  What? 
No,  I'll  ring  you  back.  .  .  . 

[At  this  moment  Hawkins  enters  hurriedly.  He  glances 
at  Ann  then.,  dismissing  her  as  a  casual  customer,,  locks 
at  his  watch  y  then  crosses  quickly  to  the  radio  and  turns  it 
up.} 

(Into  telephone.,  getting  more  and  more  angry -.)  No!  I 
catft  explain.  Not  now.  .  ,  .  There's  no  need  to 
lose  your  temper.  Well,  why  can't  you  wait  till  I  get 
back?  .  .  .  All  right,  break  it  off.  I'm  sure  it  suits 
me.  Good-byel 

[She  bangs  the  receiver  down.  Hawkins  walks  away  from 
radio  to  his  overcoat} 

HAWKINS:  Good  evening. 

ANN    (absently}':  Good    evening.  .  .  .  (Calling    out.} 

Bill! 

[She  looks  with  wild  anxiety  at  the  clocky  then  hurries  up 
the  stairs  after  William.  Sir  Gregory  and  Joan  come  in 
from  the  dining  room^  watched  by  Hawkins} 


ACT    THREE 

SIR  GREGORY:  That  cold  rabbit  pie  was  dreadful, 
diabolically  dreadful.  I  must  say,  they  manage  these 
things  differently  in  Iraq.  Why,  there  they  think 
absolutely  nothing  of  serving  up  an  entire  sheep  for 
the  company.  (Looks  at  his  watch  and  coughs.}  Well, 

my  dear,  I  rather  think  it's  time  we — er (He 

glances  up  the  stairs?) 

JOAN:  Oh!  Couldn't  we  have  some  coffee  here  first? 
SIR  GREGORY  :  We  can  have  it  sent  up.  In  any  event, 
it  will  certainly  be  foul. 

[He  takes  her  arm  and  they  ^tart  towards  the  stairs. 
Hawkins  quickly  interposes.} 

HAWKINS:  Perhaps  you'd  care  to  join  me? 

SIR  GREGORY:  Eh? 

HAWKINS:  I  was  just  going  to  order  some. 

JOAN:  Oh,  thank  goodness ! 

SIR  GREGORY:  Very  kind  of  you,  I'm  sure,  but  under 

the  circumstances.  .  .  .  Come  along,  my  dear. 

HAWKINS  :  In  that  case  there's  no  point  in  my  offering 

you  a  cigar. 

SIR  GREGORY:  Not  just  now,  thank  you  very  much. 

[He  starts  to  lead  the  reluctant  Joan  up  the  stairs.  Hawkins 
quickly  sticks  a  cigarette  in  his  mouth.} 

HAWKINS:  Oh.  I  wonder  if  I  might  trouble  you  for  a 

light? 

SIR  GREGORY:  Light?  Of  course.  Here  you  are. 

[He  drops  a  box  of  matches  over  the  hamsters  to  Hawkins 
and  continues  up  the  stairs.  The  music  fades  out.} 

HAWKINS:  Thank  you. 

[As  he  strikes  the  match,  the  voice  of  a  ILadio  Announcer 
comes  through  on  the  radio.] 


MEET    A    BODY 

RADIO  ANNOUNCER  :  This  is  the  B.B.C.  Home  Service. 
The  Middle  East — a  new  approach.  Here  is  a 
recording  of  the  speech  made  today  at  a  luncheon  in 
the  City  by  Sir  Gregory  Upshott,  who  has  just  been 
appointed  Britain's  Special  Envoy. 

[ Sir  Gregory  has  disappeared  from  view.  Hearing  his 
narne^  he  hurries  downstairs^  Joan  behind  him^  smiling  with 
relief 

SIR  GREGORY:  Oh!  (He  hesitates  .  .  .  then.}  You 
run  along,  my  dear,  will  you.  .  .  :  I  shan't  be  a 
moment. 

[During  this  the  recording  of  Sir  Gregory's  speech  has 
begun.  It  continues  during  the  ensuing  dialogue  and  is 
given  in  full  at  the  end  of  the  play.  Sir  Gregory  establishes 
himself  in  a  chair  near  the  radio.  Joan  slips  info  a  seat 
beside  him.  Sir  Gregory  glances  at  her,,  motioning  her  to 
go  back  up  the  stairs.  Joan  shakes  her  head  determinedly. 
Hawkzns,  gratified  5  starts  to  put  on  his  coat. 

During  this.,  William  appears  at  the  top  of  the  stairs  with 
Ann.  Hawkins  sees  bim^  recognises  him,  and  turns 
abruptly  awaj  with  his  back  to  them.} 

ANN  :  Are  you  sure  it  wasn't  him  ? 

WILLIAM  (as  thej  hurry  to  the  bottom  of  the  stairs): 

Positive. 

\Thej  cross  to  centre.} 

ANN  (lowering  voice):  Isn't  it  time  to  beat  that  gong? 

\Hawkins  jams  on  his  bat  and  makes  a  move  for  the  door 
behind  their  backs.  William  glances  at  clocky  uncertainly.} 

327 


ACT    THREE 

WILLIAM:  I  don't  know — wait  a  minute. 

[He  stops  as  he  suddenly  sees  Hawkins.   He  stares — then 
moves  quickly  over  and  intercepts  him.} 

What  a  very  small  world  it  is,  to  be  sure! 
[Hawkins  is  startled,  but  quickly  recovers  himself.] 

HAWKINS  :  Are  you  addressing  me,  sir  ? 

WILLIAM:  What    are    you    doing    here — repairing 

clocks  ?  Or  looking  for  Sergeant  Basset,  perhaps  ? 

HAWKINS  :  I  don't  think  we've  met. 

WILLIAM  (to  Ann) :  This  is  your  next  door  neighbour 

—Windy  Ridge. 

HAWKINS  :  That  does  not  happen  to  be  my  name. 

WILLIAM:  Take  a  look  at  the  time. 

HAWKINS:  I  can't  recollect  meeting  either  of  you 

before.    And  yet   your  face  is   somehow  familiar 

(pulling  himself  free) — though  not  so  odiously  familiar 

as  your  manner. 

WILLIAM  :  Do  you  know  what  the  time  is  ? 

HAWKINS:  Naturally.   It  is  time  to  go.    Goodnight. 

[William  pulls  out  the  revolver  he  took  from  Montague 
and  points  it  at  him.] 

WILLIAM:  Oh,  no. 
[Hawkins  looks  at  the  revolver^ 

HAWKINS:  Dear  me,  what's  that? 
WILLIAM  :  Your  uncle's  revolver,  Mr.  Hawkins — but 
unlike  him  I'm  not  relying  on  the  visual  effect. 
HAWKINS  (to  Ann}:  The  man's  as  drunk  as  a  lord  or 
as  mad  as  a  hatter.  I  wonder  which  ? 

328 


MEET    A    BODY 

WILLIAM:  You've  got  just  over  thirty  seconds  to  tell 
us  where  you  put  it. 
HAWKINS  :  Put  what  ? 

[The  landlord's  voice  is  heard,  off.} 

LANDLORD:  I  tell  you  nothing's  happened  here. 
What  d'you  mean,  blown  up  ? 

{Landlord  enters.   Roughtflomr  excitedly  pushing  him  in.} 

BOCGHTFLOWER  :  That's  what  he  said. 

LANDLORD:  What? 

BOUGHTFLOWER  {pointing  to  WiUianj):  Him!    There 

he  is.   He's  the  one  who  told  me. 

LANDLORD  :  Oh — he  did,  did  he  ? 

BOUGHTFLOWER  :  You  said  the  whole  place  was  going 

up  skyhigh. 

WILLIAM:  So  it  is — in  50  seconds.    (To  Hawkins.) 

Isn't  that  so  ? 

HAWKINS:  The  man's  just  drunk. 

[During  this,  Sir  Gregory  has  been  struggling  to  hear  bis 
own  radio  speech.,  and  has  moved  very  close  to  the  radio. 
A.t  this  point  he  gives  up  the  unequal  contest  and  turns  on 
them  angrily} 

SIR  GREGORY:  Can't  you  conduct  your  argument 
elsewhere?  The  place  is  a  bedlam  and  I  am  trying 
to  listen  to  an  important  broadcast!  Thank  you! 

{Ann  sees  the  clock,  which  is  practically  on  10.48.  She 
lets  out  a  cry} 

ANN:  Bill — the  time! 

{Hawkins  sees  his  chance  and  dives  out  of  the  door} 
5*9 


ACT    THREE 

RADIO:  "...  the  moment  of  impact  may  not  be 
so  far  ahead." 
WILLIAM:  Listen! 

\William  looks  from  radio  to  Sir  Gregory  then  back  to 
radio.] 

RADIO:  "...  If  I  can  help  to  bring  about  a  new 

settlement.  .  .  ." 

SIR  GREGORY  (clearing  his  throaf] :  Hrrm ! 

[The  record  does  the  sa??2e  immediately  afterwards^ 

WILLIAM  :  Good  God !  . .  .  Then  you're  Sir  Gregory. 
That's  your  voice.  It  must  be  in  the  radio.  Look  out 
everybody  1 

[He  rushes  forward  and  seizes  the  radio.  He  dashes  with  it 
to  the  French  windows  and  hurls  the  set  out  over  the  balcony. 
The  voice  of  Sir  Gregory  continues  from  the  radio.} 

RADIO:  "  .  .  .  I  shall  then  indeed  feel  that  my  task 
will  be  done  and  I  will  be  able  to  disappear,  this 
time  finally,  from  the  public  scene." 

[.An  explosion  is  heard  off^  followed  by  a  rumbling  as  of 
falling  sections  of  cliff.  .  .  .  They  have  all  followed 
William  to  the  window.  Lily  comes  in  from  the  dining 
room.} 

SIR  GREGORY:  Good  heavens! 

LILY:  What  on  earth  was  that? 

LANDLORD:  Only  half  the  cliff  being  blown  away. 

Pop  upstairs  and  tell  everyone  it's  all  right,  no  bones 

broken. 

LILY:  O.K. 

330 


MEET    A    BODY 

[Exeunt  landlord  and  JL//y,  the  latter  running  off  up  the 
stairs.] 

[William  comes  in  from  the  balcony  with  Bcugbtflower.] 

WILLIAM:  Where's  that  fellow  gone?  (The  noise  of  a 
car  driving  off  is  heard.}  There  goes  his  car.  (To 
Bought/lower.}  Get  after  him  in  yours — I'll  'phone  the 
police. 

[Boughtflower  hurries  out  centre.  William  crosses  towards 
the  telephone  hut  is  checked  hy  Sir  Gregory  who  comes  from 
the  window  to  him^\ 

SIR  GREGORY:  Pardon  me,  sir,  but  you  seem  to  know 

something  about  this. 

WILLIAM:  Up  to  a  point,  yes. 

SIR  GREGORY:  What  was  that  explosion? 

WILLIAM:  An  attempt  on  your  life,  Sir  Gregory, 

SIR  GREGORY:  What? 

JOAN   {wails):  He   knows    who   you   are.     I'm   not 

staying  here  now,  Fm  not,  Sir  Gregory. 

SIR   GREGORY:  Be  quiet.     And  do   sit   down,    (To 

William?)    Just  a  minute.    You  mean  to  say  that  in 

that  radio  there  was  an  explosive  ? 

WILLIAM  (who  has  replaced  the  telephone) :  Certainly. 

SIR  GREGORY:  Who  put  it  there? 

WILLIAM:  The  man  who  just  went  out.  Answers  to 

the  name  of  Hawkins. 

SIR  GREGORY:  I  don't  know  the  name. 

WILLIAM  :  It's  unlikely  to  be  his  real  one. 

SIR  GREGORY:  I  see.   Well — why  are  we  waiting — ? 

Telephone  the  police.    Tell  them  who  I  am,  and 


WILLIAM:  Is  that  advisable,  sir?  .  .  . 
JOAN:  Oh  no,  no — of  course  it's  not! 

331 


ACT    THREE 

SIR  GREGORY:  That  is  for  me  to  say. 

WILLIAM  :  Naturally,  but  I  didn't  think  you'd  want  to 

give  evidence  in  court — with  the  young  kdy.    I 

mean,  think  of  the  newspapers,  sir. 

JOAN  (wailing  again):  And  mother  takes  the  Daily 

Mirror. 

SIR  GREGORY:  She  would. 

WILLIAM:  Why  not  leave  here  now,  sir?  I'll  have  to 

make  a  statement  after  you've  gone,  but  if  you  move 

out  now  there'll  be  no  proof  you've  ever  been  here. 

After  all,  no  harm's  been  done  ...  in  any  direction. 

SIR  GREGORY:  Perhaps  you're  right.  (To  Joan.)  We'll 

leave  at  once. 

JOAN:  Oh  thank  you,  sir! 

[She  goes  to  the  mirror  to  tidy  her  bair.] 

SIR  GREGORY  (to   William r,  in  an  undertone)".  You're 

MJ.5  I  take  it. 

WILLIAM:  No,  sir.  Nothing  so  glamorous. 

SIR  GREGORY:  Oh.  Then  what  are  you? 

WILLIAM:  I — er — well,  you  might  say  I  just  go  about 

cleaning  up  things.  Blake's  the  name,  sir.  I  represent 

the  Electro-Broom,  the  Little  Wizard  of  the  Carpet. 

(He  hands  Sir  Gregory  his  card.)  My  card,  sir. 

SIR  GREGORY:  H'm?   All  I  can  say  is,  I  owe  you  a 

great  deal,  a  very  great  deal. 

WILLIAM  (taking  his  card  back) :  Pardon  me,  sir.    It's 

the  only  one  I've  got. 

SIR   GREGORY:  H'rrm.     Yes.     (To  Joan.)    Are  you 

ready,  my  dear? 

JOAN  (brightly) :  Oh  yes,  Fm  waiting. 

SIR  GREGORY  (to  William)*.  I'll  see  you  get  recognition 

for  this. 

WILLIAM  :  Thank  you,  sir.   I  hope  you  avoid  it. 

SIR  GREGORY:  I — hrrm!   Goodnight. 


MEET    A    BODY 


WILLIAM 

ANN: 


>  Good  night,  sir. 
[Exeunt  Sir  Gregory  and  ]oan.~\ 


WILLIAM:  Another  couple  of  minutes  and  I'd  have 
sold  him  an  Electro-Broom. 

[The  Landlord  comes  hurrying  in  with  two  glasses  of 
champagne  on  a  fray.  He  puts  the  glasses  on  the  fable  left 
centre  in  front  of  William  and  Ann.\ 

LANDLORD:  I  want  to  thank  you  two.    I've  got  to 

take  back  everything  I  said. 

ANN:  Perhaps  you  could  sell  him  one. 

LANDLORD  :  Fve  just  been  out  and  had  a  look  at  the 

clifF.  If  that  thing  had  gone  up  in  here  there  wouldn't 

have  been  a  bottle  left  in  the  place. 

WILLIAM:  I'm  sorry  about  your  radio,  Landlord. 

LANDLORD:  That's  all  right,  sir.    The  old  one  still 

works. 

[He  crosses  to  turn  it  on.  Borodztfs  Nocturne  fades  in. 
Thm  he  points  to  the  champagne  and  smiksl\ 

That's  on  the  house,  sk. 
\Landlord  exits .] 

WILLIAM:  Worried  about  something? 

ANN:  I'm  feeling  a  bit  limp  after  all  that  excitement. 

WILLIAM:  Ah,  yes.    (Sighs.)    The  purple  patch  has 

faded.   Back  to  the  humdrum — and  Reginald. 

ANN:  I  didn't  tell  you — he  made  another  toll-call. 

WILLIAM:  Don't  worry — he's  sure  to  charge  it  to 

expenses. 

333 


ACT    THREE 

ANN:  He's  broken  it  off. 

WILLIAM:  What?  .  .  .  Oh.   That  makes  a  difference 

—  or  doesn't  it  ? 

ANN:  I  don't  know.   Perhaps  he  didn't  mean  it. 

WILLIAM  :  You  ought  to  have  snapped  up  an  offer  like 

that. 

ANN:  I  don't  know  what  to  do. 

WILLIAM  :  You  might  consider  me, 

ANN  (turns  to  look  at  him)  :  Do  you  think  so  ?  Why  ? 

WILLIAM:  I  need  companionship.    I   couldn't  face 

the  future  throwing   bombs   out   of  windows   all 

alone.  ...  It  was  fun,  wasn't  it  ? 

]Tbe  music  has  jaded  outJ\ 

ANN:  Mmm. 
WILLIAM:  Ann.  .  .  ! 

[He  is  about  to  enfold  her,  when  the  radio  makes  an 
annotmcement^\ 

RADIO:  This  is  the  B.B.C.  Third  Programme. 
WILLIAM  (interjecting):  We  could  do  without  that. 

RADIO  :  Five  minutes  of  Free  Verse. 

WILLIAM  (interjecting)  :  Ann,  what  I  wanted.  .  .  . 

RADIO:  Here  is  Reginald  Willoughby-Pratt,  who  will 

read  a  group  of  poems  by  Milton  Boyle,  to  which  the 

author  has  given  the  title  "  Vicious  Cycle  ".  Reginald 

Willoughby-Pratt. 


[Ann  and  William  look  quickly  at  each  other. 

voice  is  heard.  It  shows  the  effects  of  strain  .  .  .  a  strain 

which  increases^ 

334 


MEET    A    BODY 

REGINALD'S     "  Her  beauty  has  a  kind  of  ugliness, 
VOICE:  A  strangulating  loveliness, 

Compressing  the  jugular  of  my  sensi 
tivity 

As  ivy  constricts  trunk  of  tree,  ..." 

\WiHiam  rises  and  goes  to  the  window  seat for  Antfs  coat} 

"  Turning  arboreal  royalty 
Into  beanpole  servitor —  .  .  ." 

[Ann  rises.   William  helps  her  on  with  her  coat.} 

"  Burying  the  berries 
in  a  fruitless  operation — 
So  that  the  name  of  her, 
Ann " 

\H?s  voice  falters  at  this  unfortunate  coincidence.    William 
and  Ann  are  checked  at  the  mention  of  the  name.} 

"  Asininely  monosyllabic, 
The  mere  kbel  she  goes  by 
Yet  pulsing  with  drum  beat — 
Ann — Ann — Ann — Ann " 


\William  and  Ann  are  again  arrested  as  they  make  for  the 
door.  Reginald's  voice  cracks  under  the  altogether  in 
tolerable  strain — this  is  to  much^  much  too  much.  His 
voice  takes  on  another \  completely  human  note} 

REGINALD'S  VOICE:  Ann!    I  can't  go  on.    I  won't! 
Listen  to  me,  Ann,  wherever  you  are  I  You  can  go  to 
your  bloody  vacuum   cleaner!    I'm   through — you. 
M 


335 


ACT   THREE 

[He  is  switched  off  abruptly  with  an  extra  definite  click. 
Ann  and  William  look  at  each  other  in  amazement.  A 
new  voice  now  breaks  in  from  the  radio] 

RADIO  ANNOUNCER:  We  must  apologise  to  listeners 
for  a  technical  hitch.  And  that  brings  us  to  the  end 
of  today's  broadcasting  in  the  Third  Programme. 
Goodnight,  everyone.  .  .  . 
WILLIAM:-)  . 

ANN:        j  Good-m§ht- 
RADIO  ANNOUNCER  :  Good-night. 

Final  curtain 


SIR  GREGORY  UPSHOTT'S  SPEECH 

Mr.  Chairman,  my  lords,  ladies  and  gentlemen  .  .  . 
hrrm— I  have  always  liked  to  think  that  I  am  funda 
mentally  a  modest  man,  but  after  your  extremely 
flattering  remarks,  Mr.  Chairman,  I  confess  I  am 
finding  the  part  somewhat  difficult  to  sustain 

[Ripple  of  polite  laughter] 

Were  I  the  walking  compendium  of  all  the  commer 
cial  and  diplomatic  talents  that  he  has  described  I 
would  certainly  be  priceless  indeed. 

[Laughter] 

But  I  am  afraid— I  am  very  much  afraid— that  I  am 
not.  Nevertheless,  I  think  I  can  promise  that  such 
ability  as  I  may  have  will  be  unremittingly  devoted  to 
the  task  to  which  I  have  been  appointed. 

536 


MEET    A    BODY 

I  have  spent,  I  suppose,  the  best  years  of  my  life  in 
the  Middle  East  and  at  one  time  entertained  serious 
thoughts  of  embracing  the  Moslem  faith.  As  a  youth 
ful  orientalist  I  studied  the  civilisation  of  ancient 
Egypt,  and  in  later  years  I  served  under  our  minister 
in  Cairo.  I  have  hunted  with  the  Kings  of  Iraq  and 
shot  with  the  Shahs  of  Iran.  I  watched  the  birth 
pangs  of  the  new  Palestine  with  a  friendly  eye  and 
studied  the  obscurer  dialects  of  Syria. 
What  do  we  find  in  those  regions  of  today?  A  vital 
area  for  British  Commonwealth  interests,  a  variety 
of  resources,  strategic  bases  of  stupendous  import 
ance,  and,  at  the  same  time,  diverse  peoples,  poverty, 
backwardness,  pressures  and  frictions,  agelong  en 
mities,  distrust  and  suspicion. 

What  is  really  wanted  is  a  new  deal.  If  our  friends  in 
those  parts  could  look  upon  themselves  and  ourselves 
with  a  fresh  eye  and  so  bury  the  past — what  is  there 
that  could  not  be  done  ? 

[Applause  and  "  heary  hears"} 

The  Egyptian  fellaheen  must  learn  to  He  down  with 
the  Israeli.  Ourselves  and  the  Americans  must  make 
an  entirely  new  approach  in  Iran.  Oil  is,  I  confess, 
much  in  my  mind — it  has  to  be.  The  future  of  our 
military  bases  must  come  into  it,  too. 
The  international  situation  makes  every  aspect  of  my 
task  urgent.  Indeed,  elements  in  certain  countries 
that  shall  be  nameless  have  threatened,  openly  and 
covertly,  to  take  any  steps  that  may  be  necessary  to 
ensure  that  my  mission  shall  be  a  failure.  Any  steps, 
gentlemen — that  is  what  we  have  come  to!  For 
myself,  I  remain  quite  unintimidated. 

^Murmur  of  applause.} 

557 


ACT    THREE 

— indeed  I  am  greatly  encouraged,  because  such 
threats  would  never  be  made  unless  they  feared  that 
my  mission  might  be  successful. 
It  is  a  platitude,  but  a  true  one,  to  say  to  our  friends 
in  that  part  of  the  globe  that  we  must  hang  together 
or  hang  separately.  In  the  common  interest  we  must 
all  unite.  The  moment  of  impact  may  not  be  so  far 
ahead.  If  I  can  help  to  bring  about  a  new  settlement 
— hrrm! — I  shall  then  indeed  feel  that  my  task  will 
be  done,  and  I  will  be  able  to  disappear,  this  time 
finally,  from  the  public  scene. 


338 


WAITING  FOR  GILLIAN 

by 
WXALD  MILLAR 


Copyright  in  the  U.S.A.  1954  by  Ronald  Millar 
Waiting  for  Gillian  is  fully  protected  by  copyright 


Applications  for  professional  repertory  licences  should  be 
addressed  to  A.  D.  Peters,,  10  Buckingham  Street,, 
Adelpbi,  London  W.C.z  and  for  performances  by  amateurs 
to  Samuel  French  Ltd.,,  2.6  Southampton  Street,  Strand., 
"London  W.C.z.  No  performance  may  take  place  unless  a 
licence  has  been  obtained* 


Laurence  Olivier  Productions  Ltd.,  staged  Waiting 
for  Gillian  at  the  St.  James's  Theatre,  London  on 
April  21,  1954,  with  the  following  cast. 


JAMES    MANNING 

JILL    MANNING 

THE    HON.    WILLIAM    STEPHEN 

FITZHARDING    BULE 
P.C.    EDDIE    CATER 
SERGEANT    GROVES 
ELSIE    PEARCE 
DOCTOR    BARRY    FREWEN 
FLO 
A    WOMAN 


John 
Googie  Withers 


Frank 

Thomas  Heatbcote 

Gorman  fierce 

j^nna  "Turner 

Noel  Hovlett 

Kathleen  Boutal! 

Catherine  Campbell 


Directed  by  Michael  Macowan 
Settings  by  Alan  Tagg 
Lighting  by  Joe  Davis 


CHARACTERS 

(In  order  of  appearance) 

JAMES   MANNING 

JILL   MANNING 

THE    HONOURABLE    WILLIAM    STEPHEN 

FITZHARDING    BULE 
P.C.    EDDIE    CATER 
DOCTOR   BARRY   FREWEN 
SERGEANT    GROVES 
ELSIE    PEARCE 
FLO 
A   BYSTANDER 


SYNOPSIS  OF  SCENES 

ACT  L  Scene  i.  The  Manning?  house  in  lucking- 
hamshire.  A  Friday  evening  in 
^larch. 

Scene  z.    The  Same.    The  following  Sunday 
afternoon. 

ACT  II.     Scene  i.    The  Same.   Five  minutes  later. 

Scene  2.    The  Same.  An  evening  a  few  weeks* 
later. 

ACT  El.  Scene  i.  The  same.  After  dinner,,  six 
weeks*  later. 

Scene  z.    "Ytis  Cafe."  A  Year  later. 


ACT    ONE 

Scene   i 

The  living  room  of  a  pleasant  country  bouse  in  Bucking 
hamshire,  on  a  Friday  evening  in  Aiarch.  French  windows 
in  the  right  wall,  an  archway  down  left  hading  to  the 
dining  room  and  kitchen.  ^  hallway^  up  centre  back, 
with  stairs  leading  up  to  the  right  and  the  front  door  to 
the  left  facing  the  stairs.  The  remains  of  a  cocktail  party 
are  littered  about  and  the  room  is  in  considerable  disorder. 
Glasses^  bottles,  canapes^  ashy  cigarette  ends,  create  an  air 
of  untidiness  in  the  otherwise  charming  room.  The  room  is 
empty  and  the  radio  is  blaring  dance  music.  Presently 
James  Manning  enters  through  the  front  door.  He  is  about 
forty,  quietly  dressed  in  city  clothes,  dark  overcoat  and 
bomburg. 

JAMES  (calls):  Jill!  Jfflie! 
JILL  (from  upstairs) :  Hello ! 
JAMES:  I'm  home,  dear. 
JILL  :  About  time,  too. 
JAMES:  Yes,  I  know. 

[He  turns  off  the  radio,  clears  an  ashtray  and  beer  bottle 
from  an  armchair.  Jill  appears  on  the  stairs.  She  is  an 
attractive  woman  of  about  thirty.,  with  something  of  the 
child  about  her  stilL  She  mars  a  housecoat  and  is  brushing 
her  hair.} 

JILL  (on  stairs} :  Well  .  .  .  hello,  stranger! 

JAMES:  I'm  awfully  sorry,  but  the  board  meeting 

dragged  on  and  on  and  I  couldn't  get  away.    Has 

everyone  gone? 

JILL:  Everyone  except  Bill  and  he  doesn't  count. 

That's  a  bad  thing  to  say.   Everyone  counts,  don't 

they?    Everyone  on  this  earth  counts  as  much  as 

345 


ACT    ONE,    SCENE    ONE 

everyone  on  this  earth.  And  that's  a  beautiful  thing 
to  say.  (Kisses  him}.  Hello,  darling. 
JAMES:  Hello,  darling. 
JILL:  Had  a  bad  time  with  your  board? 
JAMES:  Not  so  much  bad  as  bad-tempered.   (She gives 
him  her  hair  brush  and  lies  back  on  the  sofa,  her  head  on  his 
lap  while  he  brushes  her  hair  for  her}    It's  an  extra 
ordinary  thing  that  manufacturing  cigarettes  should 
generate  so  much  heat. 

JILL:  Poor  darling.   People  get  so  worked  up  about 
everything,  don't  they  ...  no  peace  ...  no  peace. 
JAMES  (brushing)-.  Peaceful  now? 
JILL:  Mm  .  .  .  that's  wonderful.    I  feel  liberated. 
Like  a  bird. 
JAMES  :  Rather  a  high  flown  bird. 

[A  crash  comes  from  the  kitchen.} 

JAMES:  What's  that? 

JILL:  Only  Bill. 

JAMES:  What's  he  doing  in  there? 

JILL:  Washing  the— breaking  the  glasses.     (Calls.) 

Bill! 

BULE(^):  Hello! 

JILL  (calls):  What  was  it? 

BULE  (off) :  The  ice  bucket.   It's  all  right — no  bones 

broken. 

JAMES  (eyeing  the  housecoat) :  Is  this  what  you  wore  for 

the  party? 

JH-L  (giggles):  I  wish  I'd  thought  of  it,  it  might  have 

gingered  things  up  a  bit.  No,  but  really,  darling,  I've 

had  quite  a  day  of  it  one  way  and  another — and  then 

your  not  being  here  and  having  to  carry  the  ball  all 

by  myself— I  felt  if  I  didn't  get  into  something  and 

stretch,  I  should  burst.    (Turns  suddenly  from  him.) 

You  don't  like  me  like  this. 

544 


WAITING    FOR    GILLIAN 

JAMES:  Yes,  of  course,  I  —  it's  .  .  .  very  fetching. 
JILL:  No,  you  don't.    I  can  always  tell  when  you 
don't.  I  can  feel  great  waves  of  disapproval  flooding 
all  over  me.  Bill,  I'm  in  disgrace. 

\Buk  enters  from  the  kitchen  arch.  He  wears  an  apron  over 
a  smartly  cut  suit.  He  is  about  James*  age,  rather  more 
dashing,  perhaps  ajear  or 


BULE  :  Well,  that's  more  or  less  a  permanent  condition 

with  me.  Evening,  Squire.  That  was  a  smooth  little 

shindig  you  missed  this  evening. 

JAMES:  Yes,    I'm    sorry,    I    had    an    interminable 

board  meeting. 

BULE  (removing  apron)  :  What  do  I  do  with  this  ? 

JILL:  Just  chuck  it  down. 

JAMES:  How  was  the  party? 

JILL:  Terrible! 

BULE:  Oh,  I  rather  enjoyed  it.    About  half  time  a 

completely  strange  character  with  a  bow  tie  and  a 

whisky  breath,  came  up  to  me  and  said  "  You're 

Bule."'   I  said  "  Yes  ",  he  said,  "  Do  you  shoot?'', 

I  said  "  Only  if  someone  starts  something  ",  and  he 

nodded   and   said   "  Ah!  "   and   went  away   quite 

satisfied. 

JILL  (gfggks):  That  was  Major  Henderson. 

JAMES:  Did  Jillie  behave  herself? 

BULE:  I'm  happy  to  report  that,  in  the  absence  of  the 

breadwinner,  the  little  woman  did  splendidly. 

JILL  :  No,  she  didn't.    I'm  no  good  at  these  do's  —  I 

seem  to  forget  things,  and  make  the  most  awful 

faux  pas  and  —  Oh!   I  don't  know,  I  can't  do  it. 

JAMES:  Can't  do  what? 

JILL:  Well,  there's  a  sort  of  a  knack  to  living  in  the 

country  in  England,  and  I  just  don't  seem  to  have  it, 

that's  all.    It's  not  my  "  thing  *',  which  isn't  fair  on 

545 


ACT    ONE,,    SCENE    ONE 

you,  darling.  You  deserve  a  proper  respectable  wife, 

who'd  be  all  that  she  ought  to  be. 

JAMES:  What  did  you  forget  this  time?   The  olives 

again  ? 

JILL:  No,  the  harpoon  things  you  spear  them  with. 

JAMES  :  Never  mind,  darling,  we  can't  all  be  efficient. 

BULE:  And  some  of  us  can't  even  be  nice  to  look  at. 

JILL  :  He  says  the  sweetest  things,  doesn't  he  ? 

BULE:  Yes,   well,   with  those   kind  words,  I'll  be 

toddling,  children. 

JILL:  No,  don't  go.  Jim,  give  him  one  for  the  road. 

JAMES  :  From  the  look  of  things,  there  isn't  one. 

JILL  :  Yes,  there  is,  there's  a  smidgin  of  Gordons  in 

the  whisky  decanter.    Back  in  a  second,  looking 

wildly  respectable. 

[Disappears  upstairs  again.  James  makes  T*>uk  and  himself 
a  drink.} 

BULE:  Smoke,  Squire? 

JAMES  :  No,  thanks,  I  don't  use  them. 

BULE  :  Really  ?  You  know,  there's  something  vaguely 

indecent  about  manufacturing  vices  for  other  people, 

but  not  indulging  yourself.    What  do  you  do  in 

London,  James?    I'd  visualised  you  as  making  the 

gaspers  yourself  with  one  of  those  little  gadgets. 

JAMES  :  That's  right.    I  put  the  paper  in  and  spread 

the  tobacco  on  it  and  roll. 

BULE:  And  lick  the  paper.   Don't  you  run  short  of 

lick,  James  ? 

JAMES  :  What  I  am  short  of  at  meetings  like  that  is 

patience.  This  one  went  on  from  10  until  6.30  when 

the  whole  thing  could  have  been  over  in  an  hour. 

BULE:  I  don't  see  how  you  do  it. 

JAMES:  Do  what? 

BULE:  This  Captain  of  Industry  stuff. 

546 


WAITING    FOR    GILLIAN 

JAMES:  It's  quite  fun,  really  .  .  .  I  see  you've  got  the 

new  car. 

BULE:  The  Lagonda?  Yes. 

JAMES  :  Pity  about  the  near-side  back  door. 

BULE  :  Why  a  pity  ? 

JAMES:  There's  a  scratch  right  across  the  paintwork, 

I  noticed  it  as  I  came  in,  didn't  you  know  ? 

BULE  :  Damn  that  man,  I  shall  have  to  fire  him.  He  is 

the  worst  chauffeur  in  the  world,  bar  none. 

JAMES:  Touched  it   coming  out  of  the  garage,   I 

should  think. 

BULE:  Steals  too. 

JAMES:  Who  does? 

BULE:  My  chauffeur. 

JAMES  :  Sack  him,  my  dear  chap. 

BULE:  I  mean  to. 

\]ames  starts  to  empty  ash  trays  info  the  grate  ^  tidying  up 
the  room,  ]ill  comes  down  the  stairs.  She  is  quietly  dressed 
in  an  afternoon  frock^\ 

JILL:  Darling,  don't  bother,  Elsie  will  see  to  all  that 

in  the  morning. 

JAMES  :  No  bother. 

JILL:  Jim  has  a  passion  for  tidiness.  He's  a  far  better 

housewife  than  I  am,   I  don't  know  why  we  have 

Elsie,  when  Jim  would  so  much  rather  do  all  the 

chores  himself. 

JAMES:  Not  really.  I  just  like  rhings  to  be  neat  and 

tidy,  that's  all. 

JILL:  Well,  you  give  me  a  guilty  conscience. 

[James  straightens  a  picture  on  the  wa/L] 

BULE:  James,  for  one  glorious  moment,  I  thought 
you  were  going  to  take  it  down, 

347 


ACT    ONE,    SCENE    ONE 

JAMES:  Why  should  I  take  it  down?  It's  quite 
harmless. 

BULE:  Bad  pictures  are  never  harmless,  James.  You 
see  them  whether  you  know  you  do  or  not,  and  they 
eat  into  your  aesthetic  sense  and  corrupt  it. 
JAMES:  I  think  it's  rather  pleasant.  So  does  Jill. 
BULE:  Does  she? 

JILL:  I  wouldn't  mind  if  he  was  a  handsome  man, 
but  he's  got  such  a  peculiar  nose. 
JAMES  (curtly) :  Well,  darling,  as  far  as  I  remember,  you 
put  him  there. 

JILL:  Oh,  well,   he's   all  right.    Anyhow,   he's  an 
ancestor  or  something,  isn't  he  ? 
BULE:  Oh,  a  family  portrait,  I  didn't  realise  that.  It's 
a  jolly  interesting  picture,  old  man.    Solid  and  re 
assuring,  like  all  the  Mannings. 
JILL:  Male  versions  only. 

BULE:  Granted.  You  know,  James,  it  must  be  very 
hard  work  being  a  solid  type,  a  decent  chap,  and  so 
on. 

JAMES:  I  seem  to  remember  that  when  I  was  at 
Oxford  it  was  pretty  hard  work  trying  to  be  a 
bounder. 

BULE  :  Ah,  it  may  have  been  for  you,  James,  but  for 
me  it  was  easy.  It's  all  a  question  of  one's  natural 
instincts. 

JILL:  What  is  a  bounder? 

BULE  :  Someone  with  weaknesses  different  from  one's 
own.  If  you're  a  sober  type,  a  man  who  drinks  is  a 
bounder.  But  if  he  happens  to  cheat  widows  and 
orphans  and  so  do  you,  then  he's  just  a  smart 
businessman. 

JAMES:  Oh  come,  that's  a  bit  too  easy. 
BULE:  By  the  way,  James,  are  you  coming  to  the 
Duke's  party? 
JAMES:  When  is  it? 

348 


WAITING    FOR    GILLIAX 

BULE:  Thursday. 

JAMES  :  Oh  God,  I  can't.  I've  got  to  be  in  town  that 

night. 

JILL:  What  for? 

JAMES  :  I'm  having  dinner  with  old  Arthur  Maitland. 

I  told  you  about  it. 

JILL:  Well,  couldn't  you  put  him  off? 

JAMES  :  I  don't  see  how  I  can. 

BULE  :  Who  is  this  old  Arthur  who  can't  be  put  off, 

and  why? 

JAMES  :  Well,  he's  old  and  poor,  and  deaf  as  a  post, 

and  a  bore. 

BULE:  All  perfectly  good  reasons  for  not  going  to 

dinner  with  him.  If  he  were  young,  rich,  and  acute  of 

hearing  and  wit,  I  should  see  your  point.    As  it  is, 

I  think  you'd  better  come  to  the  Duke's.   Don't  you 

Jill? 

JILL  :  Well,  I'm  coming  anyway. 

BULE:  What?  Even  if  James  doesn't ? 

JILL:  Uh-huh. 

BULE:  Ah,   I   misunderstood.    I   entirely   see   your 

point  about  Arthur,  James.    Nice  Arthur,  dear  old 

Arthur.   One  can  hardly  put  old  Arthur  off. 

JAMES:  I    couldn't    understand    why    you    felt    so 

strongly  about  me  coming. 

BULE:  James,  you're  too  modest.   I  say,  that  tie's  a 

brute,  isn't  it  ? 

JAMES:  Listen,  Bill,  you're  obviously  in  a  carping 

mood,  so  drink  up  your  drink  and  hop  it,  there's  a 

good  chap. 

BULE:  Cast  into  the  snow  defenceless.    Well,  well. 

'Night,  Jill.    'Night,  James,  thanks  for  the  party. 

No,  don't  bother,  I  can  throw  myself  out. 

[Bu/e  exits  through  front  door.  Pause.} 
JILL:  Wasn't  that  rather  beastly  of  you,  darling? 
349 


ACT    ONE3    SCENE    ONE 

JAMES:  What? 

JILL:  Chucking  the  Honbili  out  like  that. 

JAMES:  He  irritates   me.    Incidentally,  I  wish  you 

wouldn't  play  that  game  with  him,  JHlie. 

JILL:  What  game? 

JAMES:  The  Poor  Old  James  game.    I  get  a  little 

tired  of  it. 

JILL:  Darling,  I  don't  know  what  you  mean. 

JAMES:  Well,  the  Honbili  is  always  being  clever  or 

critical  about  somebody  or  something.   I  don't  mind 

its  being  me,  but  I  don't  think  you  ought  to  gang 

up  with  him  against  me. 

JILL:  Darling,  we  were  only  fooling. 

JAMES  :  I  know,  but  it's  all  rather  smart  undergraduate 

stuff,  isn't  113  and  you  know  you've  always  rather  liked 

that  picture. 

\Tbe  noise  of  Bute's  ILagonda  is  heard  as  he  goes  and  for  a 
moment  its  spotlight  sweeps  blindly  across  the  windows.] 

A  pity  old  Bill's  like  that,  otherwise  he's  an  amusing 

cuss.   And  I  must  say  I  like  his  style  in  motor  cars. 

JILL:  He  was  fun  at  the  party,  the  one  bright  spot  in 

fact. 

JAMES  :  Was  he  ?  Good.   Who  else  came  ? 

JILL:  Oh,  the  usual  crowd,   the  Hendersons,   the 

Margetsons — Henry  Riley  brought  a  vague  man. 

JAMES:  I  rather  like  Riley. 

JILL:  Look,  Jim,  can't  you  put  old  Arthur  off,  and 

come  to  the  Duke's  party  with  us 

JAMES:  It's  a  bit  difficult.  The  old  boy's  hard  up  now 

and  very  sensitive.    He  may  think  I  don't  want  to 

g°- 

JILL:  Do  you? 

JAMES:  Heavens  no,  it's  a  penance.   He's  practically 
stone  deaf. 

35° 


WAITING    FOR    GILLIAN 

JILL:  Well,  surely  it  doesn't  make  sense  to  miss 
something  you  want  to  go  to,  just  for  the  sake  of 
bawling  into  poor  old  Arthur's  ear  trumpet? 
JAMES:  You've  no  social  conscience.    All  right.  111 
try  and  fix  something. 

JILL:  But  I  think  ve  ought  to  let  the  Honbill  know 
tomorrow. 

*  JAMES  :  Well,  if  the  worst  comes  to  the  worst,  you  can 
always  go  without  me,  can't  you  ? 
JILL:  But  I  wanted  to  go  with  you. 
JAMES  :  Did  you  ? 

JILL  (suddenly  contrite)-.  Darling,  is  it  a  hell  of  an  effort 
to  be  as  nice  to  me  as  you  are  ? 

JAMES  :  Of  course.  It  strains  every  fibre  of  my  being. 
JILL:  I'm  not  worth  it,  you  know.  I'm  no  good  to 
man  or  beast. 

JAMES:  Useless  Jiliie,  no  good  to  anybody.  Darling 
Jillie. 

\Thej  kiss.   There's  a  ring  at  the  door.} 

JILL:  Oh!  That's  Phyllis  Scott.  She  left  her  gloves. 
JAMES:  Wretched  woman,  she  always  leaves  some 
thing  behind. 

[He  goes  to  the  door  and  opens  It.  P.C.  Eddk  Cater 
stands  there.  'Eddie  isjoung>  alert,  nobody's  fool.] 

EDDIE:  Evening,  sir.  Sorry  to  bother  you  at  this  time 

of  night. 

JAMES:  That's  all  right,  Eddie. 

EDDIE:  Good  evening,  ma'am. 

JILL:  Good  evening,  Eddie.  Come  in. 

JAMES:  What's  the  trouble? 

EDDEE:  It's  my  sister,  sir. 

JAMES:  Elsie? 

351 


ACT    ONE,    SCENE    ONE 

JILL:  Our  Elsie? 
JAMES:  What's  happened? 

EDDIE:  Well,    it's    not   her   exactly,    sir.     It's    her 
husband. 
JILL:  Joe? 

EDDIE:  Yes,  ma'am.   He  got  knocked  off  his  bicycle 
by  a  car  this  evening.    They've  took  him  into  hos 
pital.  Eslie's  in  there  now. 
JAMES  :  Is  he  badly  hurt  ? 

EDDIE:  Pretty  bad,  sir.  Fractured  skull,  they  reckon. 
JILL  :  Oh,  Eddie,  how  dreadful.  How  did  it  happen  ? 
EDDIE:  Right  outside  his  own  gate,  ma'am.  Seems 
Joe  got  home  and  Elsie  was  getting  his  tea  and  Joe 
found  he  hadn't  got  any  fags,  so  he  says  to  Elsie: 
"  I'll  just  pop  up  to  Thomas's,  shan't  be  a  minute." 
Must  have  gone  out  and  jumped  on  his  bike  and  just 
as  he  came  out  the  gate,  a  car  come  shooting  by  very 
fast  and  caught  him. 
JAMES  :  What  car  was  it  ? 

EDDIE:  I  don't  know,  Mr.  Manning,  I  wish  I  did.  It 
didn't  stop,  see. 

JAMES  :  Just  drove  straight  on  ? 
EDDIE:  That's  right,  just  drove  straight  on  and  left 
him  there  as  though  he'd  run  over  a  rabbit. 
JAMES  :  Do  you  think  the  chap  who  was  driving  knew 
he'd  hit  him  ? 

EDDEE:  I  don't  know,  sir.  Maybe,  maybe  not, 
Elsie  saw  it  all  out  of  the  window.  Of  course  it  was 
half  dark,  but  Elsie  said  it  seemed  to  catch  the  bike 
more  than  him.  She  said  he  was  just  getting  on,  and 
this  car  came  along  and  seemed  to  catch  the  bike  and 
sort  of  threw  him  and  the  bike  across  the  road. 
Doesn't  seem  the  sort  of  thing  that  could  happen  and 
the  chap  not  know  he'd  done  it. 
JAMES:  No.  Elsie  didn't  get  the  car's  number,  of 
course? 

352 


WAITING    FOR    GILLIAN 

EDDIE  :  Well,  no,  sir.  She  was  inside,  see,  and  it  was 
all  over  in  a  second. 

JAMES:  What  a  rotten  business.  He's  a  nice  chap  too, , 
is  Joe. 

JILL:  Do  they  think  he'll  be  all  right? 
EDDIE:  They  won't  say,  ma'arn,  they  seem  to  think 
there's  a  chance.  (Pause.}  Joe  was  in  Crete.  He  come 
all  through  North  Africa  and  Italy  and  never  got  a 
scratch.  Then  he  comes  home,  and  some  silly  fool 
mucking  about,  goes  and  does  this.  Married  man 
too,  with  three  kids. 

JILL:  Poor  Elsie.  Jim,  you  know  what  the  Cottage 
Hospital's  like,  I  think  we  ought  to  go  up  there  and 
see.  They'll  never  call  in  specialists,  or  anything,  un 
less  someone  makes  them. 

EDDIE:  Well,  now,  ma'am,  excuse  me,  but  the  tiling 
is,  with  your  permission,  they're  coming  here. 
JAMES:  Coming  here? 

EDDIE  :  Yes,  sir,  that  is,  Elsie,  the  Doc,  and  Sergeant 
Groves.  You  see,  sir,  you  know  them  photographs 
of  cars  you  had  at  the  fete  ? 

JAMES:  You  mean  "  Spot  the  model  and  win  a 
coconut "  ? 

EDDIE  :  That's  right.  Well,  we  was  thinking  if  Elsie 
was  to  take  a  look  at  them  she  might  be  able  to 
identify  the  car  what  hit  Joe,  and  then  maybe  there'd 
be  some  chance  of  us  catching  whoever  it  was.  You 
do  still  have  them  pictures,  don't  you,  sir? 
JAMES:  Yes,  I  think  so.  They're  in  the  desk.  I'll.  .  . . 

[The  noise  of  the  doctor's  car  arriving.} 
EDDIE:  That'll  be  them  now,  sir. 

[The  front  door  bell  rings.  James  opens  it.  Dr.  Rarry 
Frewen,  Sergeant  Groves  and  Elsie  Pearce  enter.  The 

12  553 


ACT    ONE,    SCENE    ONE 

Doctor  is  fifty  ish>  shrewd  and  penetrating.  Groves  is  bluff 
and  red-faced,  a  hearty.  Elsie  is  35,  but  looks  older ',  a 
tired>  quiet  little  woman.  At  the  moment  she  is  da^ed> 
under  shock.] 

JAMES  :  Come  in,  Sergeant. 

GROVES:  'Evening,  sir. 

JAMES:  Eddie's    just    told    us,   Elsie.    We're  most 

terribly  sorry. 

JILL  (going  to  her) :  Come  in,  Elsie  dear.    Come  and 

sit  down  and  I'll  get  you  some  tea,  or  would  you 

rather  have  brandy  ? 

ELSIE:  Nothing,  thank  you,  ma'am,  nothing,  really. 

...  I  think  I'd  just  like  to  go  and  sit  in  my  kitchen 

for  a  minute,  if  you  don't  mind,  madam. 

JILL:  Of  course.   I'll  come  with  you,  shall  I?   And 

then  you  can  tell  me  about  it  quietly,  and  we'll  see 

what  we  can  do. 

[////  takes  'Elsie  out  through  the  kitchen  arch.] 

GROVES:    Sorry  to   bother  you   at   this   hour,   Sir, 

but 

JAMES:  That's  quite  all  right.  (To  doctor^  How  is  he, 

Barry? 

DOCTOR:  Well,  he's  alive. 

JAMES  :  Is  he  going  to  pull  through  ? 

DOCTOR:  People    always    may   pull    through    until 

they're  actually  dead. 

JAMES  :  Bad  as  that  ? 

DOCTOR:  It's  a  piece  of  very  bad  luck,  really.   Joe's 

got  an  abnormally  thin  skull.   If  it  had  been  normal 

he  might  have  got  away  with  a  fracture.  As  it  is 

(he  shrugs.) 

JAMES:  Does  Elsie  know? 

DOCTOR:  She  knows  he's  in  danger.    No  point  in 

keeping  that  from  her. 

354 


WAITING    FOR    GILLIAN 

JAMES:  Is  there  anything  we  can  do,  Barry?   Specia 
lists,  or 

DOCTOR:  No.    I've  had  Haygood  already,  excellent 
man,  specialist  on  head  injuries.    Came,  stayed  a 
quarter  of  an  hour,  agreed  with  me,  and  went  away 
again.    As  I  say,  he  may  pull  through.    IVe  seen 
people  survive  as  bad,  and  worse,  but  not  often. 
GROVES:  Well,    now,    sir,   if    you   wouldn't   mind 
letting  us  take  a  look  at  the  silhouettes  of  those 
cars,  and  then  I'll  have  Elsie  in  and  see  if  she  can  pick 
out  anything  that  looks  at  all  like  it. 
JAMES  :  Yes,  of  course,  they're  here  in  the  desk. 

[He  gets  them^\ 

GROVES:  Of  course,  it  was  getting  dark  and  it  all 

happened  pretty  quick. 

JAMES:  What  time  was  it? 

GROVES:  About  six  thirty,  sir. 

EDDIE:  Elsie  says  it  was  a  big  car. 

JAMES  (suddenly) :  That's  odd.  I  mean,  what  would  a 

big  car  be  doing  along  that  road  by  the  Pearces' 

cottage?  It's  a  backwater. 

EDDIE:  You  can  get  to  Stapleton  that  way. 

JAMES  :  I  know,  but  it's  a  longer  way  round  than  the 

main  road. 

DOCTOR:  Maybe  somebody  didn't  know  the  district 

and  got  lost.    After  all,  Friday  night,  you  begin  to 

get  the  traffic  from  London. 

JAMES  :  But  not  along  there. 

GROVES:  No,  I  see  what  you  mean,  Mr.  Manning. 

But  there  it  is,  it  did  come  down  there,  worst  luck. 

Well,  now,  Eddie,  would  you  go  and  see  if  your 

sister'd  like  to  come  and  have  a  look  at  these? 

Because  the  longer  we  wait,  the  more  difficult  it's 

going  to  be. 

355 


ACT    ONE,    SCENE    ONE 

[Exit  Eddie  to  kitchen^ 

JAMES  :  What  chance  have  you  of  tracing  a  car  in  a 
case  Hke  this  ? 

GROVES:  It  depends  on  a  lot  of  things,  sir.  If  the 
chap  that  was  driving  knew  he  hit  him,  if  he's  a  real 
hit  and  run  bastard,  he'll  keep  his  mouth  shut  and 
if  his  passengers  do  the  same,  it's  like  looking  for  a 
needle  in  a  haystack.  The  best  chance  is  if  he  didn't 
know,  and  if  we  appeal  to  the  public  to  help,  he'll 
come  forward.  I've  known  that  to  happen. 
JAMES  indicating  the  photographs) :  I  doubt  if  these'll 
help  you.  I  tried  to  pick  out  our  own  Austin  from 
them  and  got  it  wrong. 

GROVES:  I  doubt  it  too,  sir,  but  we've  got  nothing 
else  to  start  from  but  Elsie,  and  at  least  she  may  be 
able  to  give  us  a  line  on  what  general  sort  and  size  of 
thing  it  was. 

[Eddte  returns  with  Elsie  and  Jill.} 

GROVES:  Now,  Elsie,  I've  got  all  these  pictures  of 
cars.  What  I  want  you  to  do  is  to  look  at  them  and 
try  and  pick  out  the  one  that's  most  like  the  one  you 
saw. 

[Elsie  goes  over  to  the  photographs  and  stares  at  them.] 

ELSIE:  I  ain't  got  my  glasses  with  me,  Eddie.    I 

ain't  got  my  glasses,  see. 

EDDIE:  Well,  just  do  your  best,  dear. 

ELSIE:  There's  a  lot  that's  rather  like  it;    that  one, 

and  that,  and  that 

EDDIE:  Humber  Pullman,  Humber  Snipe,  Sunbeam 

Ninety. 

ELSIE:  Or  that  one. 

356 


WAITING    FOR    GILLIAN 

EDDIE  (snaps):  That's  a  Yank,  a  DeSoto,  that  isn't 
like  the  others,  Else. 

ELSIE:  It  was  dark,  see,  Eddie,  and 

EDDIE:  I'm  sorry. 

ELSIE  :  I  heard  it  coming  and  I  looked  out  the  window 

and  the  light  was  in  my  eyes  and  it  was  only  as  it 

passed  I  saw  it,  and  it  was  going  fast. 

JAMES  :  Try  to  think  if  there's  anything  you  remember 

about  it,  Elsie.    The  noise  it  made,  was  it  loud  or 

quiet  ? 

ELSIE:  I  didn't  notice,  sir,  it  was  just  the  noise  a  car 

makes  coming. 

JAMES:  Did  you  get  any  idea  of  its  colour? 

ELSIE:  No,  sir.   It  was  dark,  see.  I  reckon  maybe  it 

was  black  or  some  dark  colour. 

JAMES:  Nothing  at  all  that  you  can  remember? 

ELSIE:  No,  sir.    Not  except  the  light.   It  was  very 

bright,  white,  like,  and  it  sort  of  swept  across  my 

face. 

JAMES  :  As  the  thing  came  round  the  bend,  you  mean  ? 

ELSIE:  Yes,  sir.    It  was  a  big  car,  not  like — not  like 

(she  is  close  to  tears). 

GROVES  :  That's  all  right  then,  that's  been  a  real  help, 

Elsie. 

DOCTOR  :  Have  you  finished  with  her  now,  Sergeant? 

GROVES:  Just  one  other  thing,  Elsie.   D'you  reckon 

whoever  was  driving  saw  Joe?  I  mean,  must  have 

seen  him,  or  might  it  be  that  he  never  saw  him  at  all  ? 

Did  he  seem  to  swerve  or  anything? 

ELSIE:  He  saw  him. 

GROVES:  What  makes  you  so  sure? 

ELSIE:  I  never  saw  whether  he  swerved  or  no,  but  he 

saw  him,  and  he  didn't  care. 

GROVES:  All  right  then,  Elsie,  that's  all,  and  thank 

you  very  much. 

357 


ACT    ONE,    SCENE    ONE 

DOCTOR:  I'll  see  you  home,  give  you  something  to 

make  you  sleep. 

ELSIE:  No,  no,  I  want  to  go  back  to  Joe.  Please,  take 

me  back  to  Joe. 

DOCTOR:  All  right,  my  dear. 

ELSIE  (to  Jill}:  I'll  try  to   come  in  the   morning, 

madam. 

JILL:  Don't  you  worry  about  the  morning.  You  just 

go  back  to  Joe  and  stay  with  him  till  he  gets  better. 

\The  doctor,  Jill  and  Elsie  go  out  through  the  front  door.} 

EDDIE  :  All  we  can  tell  from  that  is  that  it  was  some 
thing  over  about  fourteen  horse.  And  I  wouldn't 
trust  that  far. 
GROVES  :  No,  nor  I. 
JAMES  :  What  can  you  do  now  ? 
GROVES  :  We  can  ask  anyone  who  was  driving  along 
there  about  that  time  to  come  forward.   Apart  from 
that  we  can  check  with  our  chaps,  A.A.  scouts  and 
people  like  that  if  they  saw  anything  like  it  round 
about  there. 
EDDIE:  Like  what? 

GROVES:  Yes,  that's  the  trouble.    Well,  goodnight, 
sir,  and  thanks  very  much.   Come  on,  Eddie. 

[He  goes  to  front  door,  followed  by  Hddtey  meets  Jill 
returning} 

JILL:  Goodnight,  Sergeant. 
GROVES:  Goodnight,  ma'am. 

[Sergeant  exits.} 

JILL  :  I  am  sorry  Eddie.  Is  there  anything  we  can  do  ? 
EDDIE:  There's  nothing  you  can  do?  ma'am.   It's  up 

358 


WAITING    FOR    GILLIAN 

to  us  now.    Goodnight,  ma'am.   (He  goes.    Jill  closes 

the  front  door). 

JILL  (thoughtfully);  Eddie  is  very  determined,  isn't 

he,  for  a  country  constable.  Like  a  terrier.   One  has 

the  feeling  he'll  never  let  go. 

JAMES  :  Well,  naturally  he  wants  to  find  that  car.   So 

do  I,  if  it  comes  to  that. 

JILL  :  Why  you  ? 

JAMES:  Well,  I  just  don't  think  people  ought  to  get 

away  with  that  sort  of  thing.    What  puzzles  me  is 

what  a  big  car  was  doing  down  there.  Where  was  it 

going? 

JILL  :  I'm  still  not  sure  what  really  happened.  What 

time  did  she  say  it  was  ? 

JAMES:  About  half  past  sis. 

[Pause.  Jill  picks  up  the  drinks  fray.] 

JILL:  Food  in  five  minutes.  All  right? 
JAMES:  M'm.  Shall  I  give  you  a  hand? 
JILL  (going) :  No,  I  can  manage. 

[////  exits  with  tray.  James  takes  a  coin  from  his  pocket 
and  wanders  to  cabinet.  In  a  moment  ] ill  reappears^ 

JILL  (re-entering)'.  Where's  my  apron?    (Seeing  coin.} 

Oh — is  that  a  new  one  ? 

JAMES:  Yes.  George  the  Fourth  sovereign.  I've  been 

trying  to  get  hold  of  one  for  ages. 

JILL  :  Oh.   Good.   (She  turns  to  go.) 

JAMES   (quietly):  Jill.     (She  stops.)    You   know   him 

better  than  I  do.  Just  how  unscrupulous  a  character  is 

theHonbiU? 

JILL:  Unscrupulous?  What  do  you  mean? 

JAMES  :  Your  party  tonight.  What  time  did  Bill  turn 


up? 


359 


ACT    ONE,    SCENE    ONE 

JILL:  Same  time  as  everyone  else.   About  seven. 
JAMES  :  He  wasn't  early  ? 

JILL  :  No,  there  were  quite  a  few  people  here  before 
he  was.  It  must  have  been  after  seven.   Why  ? 
JAMES:  Joe  Pearce. 

[Pause.] 

JILL  :  You're  .  .  .  not  serious  ? 

JAMES  :  I  don't  know.  Joe  was  knocked  down  about 

six-thirty.  Imagine  coming  from  Bule's  place  to  here. 

You  could  come  that  way. 

JILL:  You  could,  but  why  should  you?    It  would 

mean  driving  right  round  us.    It's  miles  quicker 

along 

JAMES:  I  know.  But  at  least  there's  a  big  car  that 
might  have  been  on  that  road. 

JILL:  Yes,  but 

JAMES:  Wait   a   minute.     There   was   a   long   new 

scratch  on  the  near  side  of  Bill's  Lagonda  tonight.  I 

noticed  it  as  I  came  in.  Elsie  says  that  the  car  that  hit 

Joe  seemed  to  catch  the  bicycle.  If  that  had  happened 

to  Bill's  car,  it's  just  the  sort  of  mark  you'd  expect  to 

find  on  it. 

JILL  :  But  that  might  have  been  done  in  hundreds  of 

ways. 

JAMES:  Of  course  it  might.  It  might  also  have  been 

done  that  way. 

JILL:  Even  so 

JAMES  :  Elsie  said  the  light  of  the  car  seemed  to  go 
right  across  her  face.  Now  normal  headlights 
wouldn't.  But  Bill's  car  has  a  big  spotlight,  and 
the  light  from  that  would. 

JILL:  Look,  J*im,  are  you  seriously  saying  that  you 
think  it  was  Bill  who  knocked  down  Joe  Pearce  ? 
JAMES:  Well,  I  must  say  it  all  tends  to  fit  together 
rather  uncomfortably. 

360 


WAITING    FOR    GILLIAN 

JILL:  But 

JAMES:  But  what? 

JILL:  Well,  damn  it,  he's  a  friend  of  ours. 
JAMES  :  Up  to  a  point — but  what's  that  got  to  do  with 
it? 

jiLi^Oh,  it  all  seems  to  me  absolute  nonsense. 
Elsie's  place  isn't  five  minutes  away,  and  Bill  didn't 
get  here  for  another  half-hour  at  least,  and  anyhow 
he'd  never  come  that  way.  Phyllis  Scott  came  in  a 
big  car.  It  might  equally  well  have  been  her.  His 
car  had  a  scrape  on  it,  but  cars  are  always  getting 
scrapes. 

JAMES  :  I  don't  suggest  that  it  proves  anything,  but — 
JILL:  And  anyhow,  if  he  had  been  on  that  road  any 
where  near  that  time,  surely  he  would  have  said  so, 
when  we  were  talking  about  it? 
JAMES:  That's  what  I'm  wondering.  You  see,  you 
trust  him.  I  don't. 

JILL:  Why?  Because  he  pulled  your  leg ? 
JAMES  :  No.  I  just  don't  think  he's  much  good,  that's 
all. 

JILL:  Darling,  what  are  you  trying  to  do?  You're 
not  a  policeman. 

JAMES  :  No,  but  I  am  a  J. P.,  and  if  I  can  I  want  to  find 
that  car. 

JILL:  I  should  have  thought  it  was  better  to  spend 
your  time  worrying  about  what's  going  to  happen  to 
Elsie  and  the  kids  if  Joe  dies. 

JAMES:  I  think  both  things  are  important.  Look, 
Jill,  if  Joe  dies  through  somebody's  criminal  negli 
gence  and  leaves  that  poor  devil  Elsie  a  widow  and 
those  three  kids  without  a  father,  we  can't  just 
shrug  our  shoulders  and  leave  it  at  that.  For  one 
thing,  Elsie  won't  get  a  penny  compensation  out  of 
anybody. 
JILL:  Is  that  really  so,  Jim? 

361 


ACT    ONE,    SCENE    ONE 

JAMES:  Yes.    Drivers   have  to   be  insured  against 

Third  Party  claims.  From  what  Elsie  says,  she'd  have 

a  claim  against  the  driver.    No  driver,  no  claim. 

(Pause.} 

JILL:  All  right,  darling,  what  do  you  want  to  do 

about  it  ?  *t 

[Pause.] 

JAMES:  I  think  I  should  ask  him  straight  out. 

JILL  :  If  you  do  it'll  mean  the  end  of  our  friendship. 

JAMES  :  Is  friendship  with  Bill  so  important  to  you  as 

all  that? 

JILL:  As  all  what?  After  all,  I'm  down  here  most  of 

the  time  by  myself.   There  aren't  many  people  that  I 

like.  Bill  happens  to  be  one  of  them.   In  a  city  you 

can  pick  and  choose  from  a  wide  field,  but  in  the 

country  you  have  to  settle  for  those  who  inhabit 

the  same  half  acre  as  you  do. 

JAMES  :  So  Bill  does  matter. 

JILL:  Well,  you  can't  expect  me  to  be  very  pleased  if 

we  can't  know  him  any  more,  simply  because  you've 

got  this  ridiculous  suspicion  about  him. 

[Pause.] 

JAMES:  All  right.   How  about  this ?  I'll  be  perfectly 

satisfied  if  I  can  find  out  where  Bill  was  at  the  time 

this  happened. 

JILL:  Oh,  well,  if  that's  all  you  want  to  know,  he 

was  at  the  Dawsons.  I  know,  because  he  told  me  at 

the  time  he'd  come  on  from  there. 

JAMES:  But  why  on  earth  didn't  you  say  so  before? 

JILL:  I'd  forgotten  until  you  asked  me.    Anyhow, 

what  difference  does  it  make  ? 

JAMES  :  Simply  that  if  he  was  coming  here  from  the 

362 


WAITING    FOR    GILLIAN 

Dawsons,  it  would  be  absurd  to  go  along  Tarrant's 
Lane.  And,  anyhow,  presumably  he  was  with  them 
when  it  happened. 

JILL:  Fine,  so  now  you  know  what  you  want  to, 
and  we  can  all  relax.   (Pause.)  I  think  I'll  go  over  to 
Elsie's,  and  see  if  there's  anything  I  can  do  for  her 
and  the  children. 
JAMES:  Good  idea. 

[Pause.] 

JILL:  Come  on,  let's  eat. 

[She  goes  out.  James  sits  for  a  moment,  thinking^  then 
goes  to  the  telephone  and  dials.} 

JAMES:  Hello,  can  I  speak  to  Mr.  Dawson,  please. 
.  .  .  Away  ?  When  did  he  leave  ?  .  .  .  A  week  ago  ? 
Are  you  sure.  .  .  . 

[James  slowly  replaces  receiver  as  the  curtain  falls.] 


Scene   2 

The  Same.    The  following  Sunday  afternoon. 

James  is  seated  at  the  table  y  examining  coins.  Presently  he 
gets  up,  picks  up  the  Sunday  paper  from  the  sofa  and 
glances  at  the  clock.  As  he  sits  on  the  sofa,  the  clock 
strikes  three. 

Rule  enters  through  the  French  windows  * 
BULE:  Right  on  time,  I  think. 

363 


ACT    ONE,    SCENE    TWO 

JAMES  (rising  at  once) :  You  came  by  the  orchard  ? 

BULE  :  Instructions  were  carried  out  to  the  letter.  But 
-  why  all  the  hush-hush?    You  sounded  positively 

conspiratorial  on  the  blower.    "  Come  Sunday  at 

three.  Come  the  back  way."  Why  the  back  way  ? 

JAMES:  I  didn't  want  you  to  run  into  Jill  till  we'd 

talked. 

BULE:  Ah.  (He pauses.)  And  just  what  are  we  going 

to  talk  about? 

JAMES  (bluntly) :  Look,  Bill,  was  it  you  who  bowled 

over  Joe  Pearce  ? 

BULE:  No,  it  wasn't  I.   Was  it  you? 

JAMES:  No. 

BULE:  Then  it  was  some  third  party.    That's  the 

answer,  James.  As  Holmes  used  to  say,  eliminate  all 

the  other  possibilities   and  the  one  that  remains, 

however  improbable,  must  be  correct. 

JAMES:  All  right,  then.    I'm  sorry,  but  I'll  have  to 

ask  you  a  question.    You  don't  have  to  answer  if 

you  don't  want  to,  but  it  would  help  me  if  you  would. 

BULE:  Help  you — in  what  way? 

JAMES:  I've  been  worrying  about  this  since  Friday 

night.  I  told  myself  that  it  was  none  of  my  business. 

But  it  is.  It's  everyone's  business.  If  you  will  answer 

me  it  will  set  my  mind  at  rest. 

BULE:  I  doubt  that,  but  fire  ahead. 

JAMES:  Joe  Pearce  was  knocked  down  at  half  past 

six  on  Friday.  Where  were  you  then? 

BULE  (reflectively) :  Half  past  six  on  Friday.    Surely  I 

was  here  at  your  party. 

JAMES:  No,  you  didn't  get  here  until  after  seven. 

Jill  says  you  told  her  that  you'd  come  on  from  the 

Dawsons. 

BULE:  Well,  if  I  told  Jill  that  I'd  come  from  the 
Dawsons,  then  I'd  come  from  the  Dawsons.  I'm 
a  truthful  type,  really. 

364 


WAITING    FOR    GILLIAN 

JAMES  :  You  can't  have.   The  Dawsons  are  away. 
BULE  (slowly) :  Then  I  got  it  wrong.  Or  Jill  got  what  I 
said  wrong.  Or  you  got  what  Jill  said  I  said  wrong, 
or  something.  Where  is  Madam,  by  the  way? 
JAMES:  She's  gone  over  to  Elsie's.   You  admit  that 
you  weren't  at  the  Dawsons  ? 

BULE:  I  can't  very  well  do  that  if  Jill  says  I  was,  can 
I?  I  mean  to  say,  surely,  James,  this  is  simply  a 
Manning  family  dispute.  Jill  says  I  was  at  the 
Dawsons  and  you  say  I  wasn't.  You  must  fight  it 
out  between  you. 

JAMES:  Never  mind  what  we  say.  Where  do  you 
say  you  were  ? 

BULE:  I'll  give  you  a  clue,  James.   Wherever  I  was, 
I  was  minding  my  own  business. 
JAMES  :  In  other  words,  you  lied  to  Jill  and  you  refuse 
to  tell  me  the  truth. 

BULE  :  If  you  like.  Does  that — er — set  your  mind  at 
rest? 

JAMES  :  No,  it  doesn't.  Look,  Bill,  Joe  Pearce  was 
knocked  down  by  a  big  car  driving  on  a  spotlight, 
in  a  pkce  where  through  traffic  has  no  reason  to  go, 
but  where  a  local  driver  might.  You  have  a  big  car. 
You  often  drive  on  your  spotlight.  You  might  con 
ceivably  use  that  way  in  coming  to  our  place.  You 
had  a  fresh  scrape  on  your  car  on  Friday  night  that 
might  have  been  caused  by  a  bicycle's  handlebars.  I 
don't  suggest  that  any  of  this  proves  anything.  In 
fact,  you've  only  got  to  prove  that  at  half  past  six 
you  were  somewhere  else  and  the  whole  thing's 
settled. 

[Pause.} 

BULE:  But  supposing  I  was  somewhere  else  but  just 
preferred  not  to  prove  it  to  you,  James  ? 

365 


ACT    ONE,    SCENE    TWO 

JAMES:  Then  you  can't  complain  if  other  people 

suspect  you. 

BULE:  I  don't,  my  dear  chap.    I  don't  mind  in  the 

least. 

JAMES  :  Or  if  the  police  ask  you  the  same  question  ? 

BULE:  Ah,  I  thought  we  should  get  around  to  the 

police.   In  fact,  if  I  don't  explain  my  moves  to  you, 

you'll  go  to  them  and  say  you  suspect  me. 

JAMES:  I  shall. 

BULE  (reflectively):  The  trouble  about  being  a  good 

citizen  is  that  it  sometimes  lands  you  in  making  an 

abject  ass  of  yourself. 

JAMES  :  I'm  prepared  to  risk  that. 

BULE:  1*11  bet  you  are.    I  wonder  why  you're  so 

anxious  to  prove  that  I  did  it.   After  all,  we  may  not 

like  one  another  much,  but  it  wouldn't  give  me  any 

particular  fun  to  put  you  in  a  mess. 

JAMES:  I  don't  particularly  want  to  prove  that  you 

did  it.  But  I  want  to  know  who  did,  and  having  got 

this  idea  into  my  head,  I  must  get  it  settled  one  way 

or  the  other. 

BULE:  Yes,  I  can  see  all  that,  but  it  isn't  quite  the 

whole  story,  is  It,  James  ? 

JAMES  :  I  told  you  how  I  felt  about  this.  If  I  can  find 

the  driver  of  that  car  I  shall  do  so,  whoever  it  is.   If 

it  wasn't  you,  prove  it  and  I'll  apologise. 

BULE  (slowly,  after  a  moment) :  Well,  will  this  do  ?  For 

reasons  which  are  neither  here  nor  there,  I  don't 

want  to  describe  my  movements  at  that  time.    But 

I  give  you  my  word  of  honour  that  I  did  not  drive 

my  car  or  any  other  car  along  Tarrant's  Lane  on 

Friday  night,  and  I  did  not  knock  down  Joe  Pearce- 

Does  that  satisfy  you  ? 

JAMES  :  No,  it  doesn't. 

BULE:  Why  not? 

JAMES:  Partly  because  I've  heard  you  say  a  dozen 

366 


WAITING    FOR    GILLIAN 

times  the  truth  doesn't  interest  you,  and  that  there 
is  absolutely  no  reason  for  telling  it  if  it's  incon 
venient. 

BULE  (crossly) :  Really,  James,  you  are  an  ass. 
JAMES  :  And  partly  because  there's  no  real  reason  to 
ask  me  to  rely  on  your  word  when  you  can  prove  it 
quite  easily.  I'm  not  interested  in  your  private  life.  I 
don't  care  in  the  least  what  you  were  doing  or  where 
you  were.  But  I'm  not  prepared  just  to  be  told  you'd 
rather  not  say,  when  you've  akeady  tried  to  set  up  a 
false  alibi  about  it  through  Jill. 

[Pause.] 

BULE:  All  right.  I've  done  my  best  but  the  good  citi 
zen  defeats  me.    Supposing  I  was  in  Tarrant's  Lane 
round  about  that  time.  What  do  you  want  me  to  do  ? 
JAMES:  You  admit  that  you  did  knock  Pearce  down? 
BULE:  I  don't  admit  anything  of  the  kind.   But  sup 
posing  it's  all  just  as  you  suppose.  What  then? 
JAMES  :  Then  obviously  you  go  to  the  police. 
BULE:  And  then? 

JAMES  :  Then  it's  up  to  them.  The  only  person  who 
saw  the  accident  was  Pearce's  wife. 
BULE:  Who'll  say  I  was  doing  ninety  miles  an  hour. 
JAMES  :  Well,  it  was  a  bad  show  not  stopping  if  you 
knew  you'd  hit  him.   The  police  don't  like  hit  and 
run.   And  if  he  dies.  .  .  . 
BULE:  They  run  me  for  manslaughter. 
JAMES:  Possibly. 
BULE:  And  I  go  to  jail. 
JAMES:  Possibly. 

BULE  :  Really,  you  know,  James — but  really,  it  won't 
do. 

JAMES:  WTaat  do  you  mean? 
BULE:  Well,  think.  Joe  Pearce  is  killed.   His  wife  is 

367 


ACT    ONE,    SCENE    TWO 

widowed,  his  children  are  orphans.  Haven't  enough 
people  been  made  miserable  by  one  bit  of  bad  luck 
already,  without  wrecking  somebody  else's  life  by 
sending  them  to  jail? 

JAMES  :  Are  you  going  to  the  police,  or  shall  I  ? 
BULE  (slowly):  James,  you  don't  think  about  these 
things,  that's  your  trouble.    Those  really  are  the 
alternatives  ? 
JAMES:  Yes. 

BULE  (sighs):  Old  sea-green  incorruptible.  How 
Galsworthy  would  have  loved  you.  (Smiles  suddenly.') 
All  right,  James,  I'll  go  and  own  up.  Tomorrow 
morning.  And  then  the  whole  school  won't  have  to 
stay  in. 

JAMES:  Damn  the  whole  business.    Whatever  hap 
pened,  Bill  ?   Did  you  know  you'd  hit  him  ? 
BULE:  Of  course  not. 
JAMES  :  Did  you  see  him  ? 

BULE:  Yes,  for  a  fraction  of  a  second  but  he  was  well 
clear  of  the  wings  by  then.  I  knew  it  had  been  fairly 
close,  but  that  was  all.  I  think  he  must  have  wobbled 
into  the  back  of  the  car. 

JAMES  :  Yes,  the  scratch  was  on  the  back  door.  You 
just  touched  his  handlebars  and  that  chucked  him 
and  the  bike  into  the  road.  Barry  said  that  if  he'd  had 
an  ordinary  skull  he'd  have  been  all  right. 
BULE  (wearily):  Yes,  it  was  all  very  unfortunate. 
Who  had  I  better  go  and  see  ? 

JAMES:  Sergeant  Groves,  I  should  think.   And  take 
your  solicitor  with  you. 
BULE:  Yes.  That's  an  idea. 

[Noise  of  Jill's  car  driving  up  at  the  front  door,] 


BULE:  Madam? 
JAMES:  Yes. 


368 


WAITING    FOR    GILLIAN 

BULE:  Look,  if  I  were  you,  James,  I  wouldn't  say 

anything  about  this  to  Madam.   Not  just  yet. 

JAMES:  Because  for  once  you  don't  show  up  in  the 

best  possible  light? 

BULE:  I  was  afraid  you'd  say  that.  Well,  well,  at  any 

rate  now  your  mind  will  be  at  rest  and  you'll  be 

able  to  sleep  soundly. 

JAMES:  I'm  sure  it's  the  right  thing  to  do,  you  know. 

BULE:  And  I'm  equally  sure  it's  the  wrong  thing  to 

do.   However,  I  don't  doubt  we  shall  see. 

[He  goes  out  through  the  French  windows.  In  a  moment  Jill 
enters  through  the  front  door} 

JILL  :  Phew !  I  need  a  cup  of  hot,  strong  tea  rather 
quickly.  (Throws  herself  on  to  the  sofa.)  Elsie's  over 
at  the  hospital,  I've  been  playing  bears  with  the  kids 
till  I'm  black  and  blue.  I  was  quite  a  success — con 
sidering  I've  had  no  experience  with  children. 
They  don't  know  about  Joe.  Have  you  heard  any 
more? 

JAMES  (shortly)  \  No.  I'll  put  a  kettle  on.  (He goes  out 
to  the  kitchen.) 

[Pause.} 

JILL:  Jim. 

JAMES  (<?/):  Yes?  (He  returns)  Yes? 

JILL:  I've  been  thinking.  About  Joe.  It's  the  holiday 

weekend  and  there  are  always  dozens  of  day  trippers 

about.   It  was  more  than  likely  one  of  them.   Don't 

you  think? 

JAMES:  No,  I  don't, 

JILL  :  That's  because  you've  got  a  bee  in  your  bonnet 

about  Bill.    I  was  talking  to  Doris  Elcott  yesterday 

and  she  says 

369 


ACT    ONE,    SCENE    TWO 

JAMES:  Look,  darling,  you're  not  going  to  like  this, 

but  I  can't  help  it.  I  was  right  about  Bill. 

JILL:  Right?  Over  what? 

JAMES:  It  was  Bill  who  knocked  down  Joe  Pearce. 

[A  moment — then:} 

JILL  (breathlessly) :  But  how  could  it  have  been  ?  If  he 

was  coming  here  from  the  Dawsons 

JAMES  :  He  didn't  come  from  the  Dawsons.  I  checked 

up  and  they  were  away.  He  told  you  that  just  to  make 

an  alibi.  He  admits  it. 

JILL  (slowly):  He  admits  that  he  knocked  down  Joe 

Pearce? 

JAMES:  Yes.   I  called  him  over  just  now  and  asked 

him  flat.  Oh,  he  denied  it  at  first  but  I  nailed  him  on 

the  fact  that  he  couldn't  say  where  he  was  at  the  time. 

Apparently  he  didn't  know  that  he'd  actually  hit  Joe, 

but  he  admits  that  he  saw  him  and  that  he  knew  it 

had  been  a  near  thing.    So  that's  that. 

[Pause — then\ 

JILL:  Well,  well,  well.   What  now? 

JAMES:  He's  going  to  the  police.  I've  advised  him  to 

take  his  solicitor. 

JILL:  I    should    have    thought    Bill    would    have 

favoured  keeping  his  mouth  shut. 

JAMES:  He  did,  but  I  told  him  that  if  he  didn't  tell 

the  police,  I  would. 

JILL:  Do  you  realise  what  will  happen?  They'll 

JAMES:  They'll  probably  run  him  in  for  dangerous 
driving.  If  Joe  Pearce  dies,  they  may  charge  him 
with  manslaughter,  and  if  the  charge  is  proved,  he 
may  go  to  jail.  Yes,  I  do  realise  it,  and  though  you 
probably  won't  believe  me,  I  don't  particularly  like 

37° 


WAITING    FOR    GILLIAN 

it.  But  it  isn't  a  question  of  what  I  like  or  what  you 
like.  It's  a  matter  of  common  justice. 
JILL:  But  good  God,  Jim,  the  thing  was  an  accident. 
You  could  tell  from  what  he  says  that  it  was. 
JAMES:  All  right.    If  he  wasn't  to  blame,  I  don't 
doubt  that  he'll  get  away  with  it. 
JILL  :  Don't  you  ever  make  mistakes  ? 
JAMES  :  All  the  time.  And  pay  for  them. 
JILL  (after  a  moment} :  Jim,  darling,  I'm  going  to  ask 
you  something,  something  you're  going  to  find  it 
difficult  to  do.    I  think  it's  worth  asking  because  I 
know  you're  a  generous  person. 
JAMES:  What's  that? 

JILL  (slowly}'.  I'm  going  to  ask  you  to  ring  Bill  up 
and  ask  him  to  come  back.  When  he  comes,  I  want 
you  to  tell  him  that  you  won't  force  him  to  go  to  the 
police,  but  just  leave  him  to  decide  for  himself.  I 
don't  want  it  to  be*you  who  makes  him.  See? 
JAMES:  You  could  do  that  with  some  people,  but 
with  the  Honbill  it's  hopeless.  He  wouldn't  think 
about  what  was  the  right  thing  to  do,  or  about  Elsie 
and  the  kids,  or  about  anything  but  what  was  con 
venient  for  him. 

JILL:  You  won't  do  that  for  me? 
JAMES  :  I'm  sorry,  darling.  Not  even  for  you. 
.  JILL:  But  don't  you  see 

[The  telephone  rings.  James  picks  up  the  receiver.] 

JAMES:  Hello?  (Gravely.)  Yes,  very.  How's  his 
wife?  I  see.  .  .  .  Well,  thanks  very  much  for 
ringing,  Barry.  Goodbye. 

[He  hangs  up  and  turns  to  face  JilL] 
JILL  (very  still) :  Joe? 


ACT    ONE,    SCENE    TWO 


JAMES  (skwlyY*  Yes.  He's  dead.  .  .  .  (Pause.}    Well, 

that  rather  settles  it,  darling,  doesn't  it  ? 

JILL  (quietly)  :  Settles  what  ? 

JAMES  :  You  can't  play  around  with  the  truth  when  a 

man's  been  killed. 

[Jill  laughs  suddenly,  a  laugh  with  no  laughter  in  //.] 

JILL:  No.    We  must  have  the  truth.    You  like  the 

truth  don't  you,  Jim?   Well,  here  it  is,  if  you're  so 

keen  on  it.   I  was  in  Bill's  car  when  it  hit  Joe.    Or 

Joe's  bicycle,  or  whatever  it  was. 

JAMES  (stupidly)'.  You  were  in  it? 

JILL:  Yes.  And  what's  more,  I  was  driving  it! 


Curtain 


372 


ACT    TWO 

Scene   i 


The  same. 


A  few  minutes  later.  Jill  is  in  the  same  position  as  at 
the  end  of  Act  L  ]ames  is  at  the  telephone. 

JAMES  (at phone) :  I  don't  doubt  that  you  think  so,  but 
as  it  happens  I  don't.  I  prefer  to  know  the  truth, 
however  ugly.  .  .  .  We  won't  argue  about  it.  The 
point  is,  I  think  you'd  better  come  back  here.  .  .  . 
Yes,  now.  And  hurry. 

[James  hangs  upy  turns  to  Jill.} 

He's  coming.  Go  on,  please. 

JILL  (pleading):  Do  I  have  to? 

JAMES:  It's  not  a  question  of  having  to.    Surely  I'm 

entitled 

JILL    (distracted):  Yes,    darling,    of    course    you're 

entitled.    It's  just  that — once  you  start  something 

like  this — it's  like  taking  the  first  stone  away  from  a 

breakwater. 

JAMES  :  I'm  waiting,  Jillie. 

[Pause.] 

JILL  (at  lengh} :  Well,  on  Friday  evening  Bill  came 
over  about  five  to  help  me  get  ready  for  the  party. 
When  I  came  to  look  I  wasn't  sure  that  we'd  got 
enough  gin.  You  remember,  you  were  going  to 
bring  a  couple  more  bottles  down  with  you  from 
town,  and  I'd  been  counting  on  them.  Then  you 
phoned  to  say  you  wouldn't  be  here  in  time,  and  that 
meant  the  gin  wouldn't  be  here  in  time  either.  So 
we  decided  we'd  better  go  and  get  some.  We  went 

373 


ACT    TWO,    SCENE    ONE 

over  to  that  pub  near  Levening.    While  we  were 
there  we  had  a  drink  and  sat  and  talked. 
JAMES:  Were  you  tight? 
JILL  :  No,  of  course  we  weren't. 
JAMES  :  How  many  drinks  did  you  have  ? 
JILL:  Oh,  about  two,  I  think. 

JAMES  :  Yes,  but  how  many  drinks  did  you  really  have, 
Jill? 

JILL:  Well,  as  a  matter  of  fact,  I  think  it  was  three. 
Anyhow,  we  certainly  weren't  drunk.  -But  Bill 
suddenly  looked  at  his  watch  and  found  it  was 
quarter  past  six.  As  these  people  were  coming  at 
seven  and  we  hadn't  finished  getting  ready,  we  had  to 
bolt  back  pretty  quickly.  I  asked  him  if  I  could  drive 
and  he  let  me.  Well,  anyhow,  we  were  coming  along 
Tarrant's  Lane.  I  wasn't  going  very  fast.  You 
can't — it's  too  narrow.  I  never  saw  Joe  at  all,  first  or 
last.  All  that  happened  was  that  Bill  suddenly  said 
"  Whoops,  that  put  the  wind  up  him  "  and  I  said, 
"What?"  And  he  said,  "Bloke  with  a  bicycle- 
nearly  came  out  right  under  your  wheels."  And  that 
was  all. 

JAMES  :  Didn't  either  of  you  look  back  ? 
JILL  :  I  think  Bill  did  just  glance  back.  It  was  pretty 
dark.   I  never  thought  any  more  about  it  until  you 
said  it  happened  at  half  past  six. 
JAMES  :  Why  on  earth  didn't  you  tell  me  then  ? 
JILL:  I  didn't  want  you  to  know  I'd  been  out  with 
Bill. 

JAMES  :  Why  not?  Hell,  there's  no  harm  in  going  out 
to  buy  gin. 

JILL:  I  thought  you'd  be  cross  and  be  sure  it  was  my 
fault. 

JAMES:  What  did  you  do  when  you  realised  what  had 
happened? 
JILL:  I  rang  up  Bill.   He  said  he  thought  it  couldn't 

374 


WAITING    FOR    GILLIAN 

have  been  us  and  we  agreed  that  we'd  better  keep 

quiet. 

JAMES:  Was  that  when  he  decided  to  say  that  he'd 

been  at  the  Dawsons  ? 

JILL:  No,  that  was  just  me.  He  never  said  he  had.  I 

just  told  you  that  because  then  I  thought  you  might 

stop  suspecting  him.  .  .  .  The  kettle's  boiling. 

[Goes  out  to  kitchen.  James  goes  to  French  windows^  looks 
out,  waiting  for  Bale.  Jill  returns  with  tea  tray.] 

JILL  (setting  it  down) :  There's  no  cake,  do  you  think 

it'll  matter.    I  meant  to  order  a  fresh  one  yesterday 

but  with  all  this  on  my  mind.  .  .  .  (Pause.} 

JAMES  (quietly) :  Jill,  how  often  have  you  been  going 

out  with  Bule? 

JILL:  Quite  a  bit. 

JAMES:  How  much  is  there  to  it? 

JILL:  What  do  you  mean? 

JAMES:  Are  you  having  an  affair  with  him,  Jillie? 

JILL  :  Darling,  of  course  not.  It — it  isn't  like  that  at 

all.  It's  just  that  I've  been  a  bit  bored  and — and  have 

been  making  an  ass  of  myself,  and — kicking  up  my 

heels  rather.    You  see,  I've  been  here  by  myself 

and 

JAMES:  And  that's  all  there  is  to  it? 
JILL  :  Of  course.  You  believe  that,  Jim  ? 
JAMES:  Oh,   yes.    I   didn't  really  think  that — that 
there  could  be  anything  else.   But  I  had  to  ask  you 
because  otherwise  I  shouldn't  know  where  I  was. 
Well,  there's  one  thing,  Bule's  certainly  got  the  laugh 
on  me  over  this. 

JILL:  I  don't  think  he's  doing  much  laughing.  Any 
how,  you  were  dead  right,  weren't  you  ? 
JAMES:  How? 
JILL:  About  its  being  Bill's  car.  All  you  were  wrong 

375 


ACT    TWO,    SCENE    ONE 

about  was  who  was  driving  it,  and  that  you  couldn't 

know. 

JAMES  :  Yes.    It  was  a  nice  piece  of  observation  and 

deduction  and  it's  given  me  great  satisfaction. 

JILL:  I'm  most  desperately  sorry  to  have  let  you  in 

for  this. 

JAMES:  That's  all  right.    The  thing  we've  got  to 

decide  now  is  what  to  do  about  it.    (She  goes  on  her 

knees  beside  him.} 

JILL:  Think  for  me,  Jim.    You've  always  had  to 

think  for  me.  I'm  a  useless  person.  I'll  do  whatever 

you  say. 

[The  front  door  bell  rings.} 

JAMES  :  -There  he  is.   Come  on. 

\]ill  rises.  James  goes  to  front  door,  opens  it.  Bute  enters.} 

BULE:  Hello  again,  James.    I  gather  Madam  hasn't 

been  able  to  keep  her  big  mouth  shut. 

JAMES  :  I  should  have  liked  it  better  if  she  had  opened 

it  a  bit  sooner.   As  it  is  I'm  not  sure  whether  I  owe 

you  an  apology  or  you  owe  me  one. 

JILL  (in  a  low  voue)\  The  only  person  who   owes 

anybody  an  apology  is  me.    He's  dead.  Bill.    Joe's 

dead. 

BULE:  Oh. 

JAMES  :  I've  been  thinking  it  over.   There's  a  chance 

that  you  might  get  away  with  it  as  an  unavoidable 

accident. 

BULE:  Well,  I've  been  thinking  it  over,  too,  James, 

and  I  can't  say  I'm  too  optimistic,  particularly  now 

the  lad's  pegged  out.   Wherefore,  I  can't  help  feeling 

we  were  in  a  stronger  position  when  you  and  I 

parted  this  afternoon  than  we  are  now. 

JAMES:  How's  that? 

376 


WAITING    FOR    GILLIAN 

BULE:  Well,  the  idea  then  was  that  Bule  goes  to  the 
police  and  makes  a  clean  breast  of  it.  ...  "  Ser 
geant,  I  cannot  tell  a  lie,  I  did  chop  down  Joe 
Pearce  "  or  words  to  that  effect.  Bule  then  takes  the 
rap  and  goes  up  the  river,  or  else  he's  acquitted  with 
out  a  stain  on  his  character.  This  didn't  strike  me  as 
attractive,  but  there  was  at  least  some  grain  of 
satisfaction  in  it  for  Judge  Manning.  As  it  is,  there 
doesn't  seern  to  be  anything  in  it  for  anybody.  At 
least,  James,  I  suppose  being  a  decent  citizen  doesn't 
include  sending  your  wife  to  jail. 
JILL:  Why  not? 
BULE:  Well,  not  being  a  decent  citizen  Fm  hardly 

qualified  to  answer 

JAMES  (snaps):  Then  don't. 

BULE:  However,  speaking  from  my  modest  perch  in 
the  treetops,  where  for  some  forty  years  I've  looked 
down  upon  suffering  humanity,  Fd  say  if  the 
honourable  feller  is  forced  to  choose  between  two 
duties — one  to  his  spouse  and  t'other  to  society — 
society's  had  it.  Right,  James  ? 

[No  answer '.] 

Which  only  goes  to  prove  how  much  simpler  life  is 

if  you  have  no  sense  of  duty  whatever. 

JILL:  Bill,  don't.   This  is  serious. 

BULE:  No,  it  isn't.   The  solution  is  obvious. 

JAMES  :  What  solution  ? 

BULE:  Bule  takes  the  rap. 

JAMES  :  Don't  talk  bunkum. 

BULE   (jndignantly}'.  Bunkum?    What  do  you  mean, 

bunkum  ?  It's  what  you'd  do,  isn't  it,  James  ?  What 

any  decent  man  would  do.    Can't  we  all  be  Boy 

Scouts  or  have  you  bought  the  monopoly  ? 

JAMES:  Look,    if   you    have    anything    serious    to 

377 


ACT   TWO,    SCENE    ONE 

suggest,  let's  have  it.  Just  don't  waste  time  playing 

the  fool. 

BULE:  I'm  not  playing  the  fool.  I'm  perfectly  serious. 

I'll  say  it  was  me.  Or  is  it  "  I "  ? 

JILL:  Don't  be  an  ass. 

JAMES:  You  know  perfectly  well  that's  out  of  the 

question. 

BULE:  The  trouble  with  you,  James,  is  that  so  many 

things  are  out  of  the  question.    Here  we  are  with 

three  possibilities.  The  first  is  that  I  should  say  I  did 

it.  You  say  that's  out  of  the  question.  The  second  is 

that  we  should  all  keep  our  mouths  shut.    YouVe 

already  told  me  that's  out  of  the  question.  The  third 

is  that  Jill  shall  risk  going  to  jail.  And  that  seems  to 

me  to  be — er — out  of  the  question. 

JILL:  Why?   If  it  was  anyone's  fault,  it  was  mine. 

BULE:  Yes,  but  I  shouldn't  like  it  and  neither  would 

James.   And  neither  would  you,  my  dear.     Believe 

me,  what  I'm  proposing  is  purely  selfish.    I  don't 

really  want  to  be  a  martyr.   It  isn't  my  game.   But 

I  should  dislike  even  more  to  see 

JAMES  :  Oh,  for  God's  sake,  shut  up. 
JILL:  Surely  it's  all  perfectly  simple.  We  get  hold  of 
a  good  lawyer  tomorrow  morning.  We  decide  with 
him  just  how  we're  going  to  put  it  and  then  we  go 
along  to  the  police.  After  that,  it's  up  to  them.  If  I 
get  away  with  it,  all  right,  I  get  away  with  it.  If  I 
don't — that's  too  bad. 

BULE:  My  dear  girl,  I  must  say  you're  very  frustrat 
ing.  My  one  chance  to  play  a  straight  bat  and  you 
knock  down  the  wicket. 

JAMES:  You  know  perfectly  well  I  can't  take  you  up 
on  that,  otherwise  you'd  never  have  suggested  it. 
BULE:  Take  me  up  on  what,  James? 
JAMES  :  The  idea  of  saying  that  you  were  driving. 
BULE:  You're  quite  wrong  as  it  happens.   I  should 

378 


WAITING    FOR    GILLIAN 

be  slightly  surprised  if  you  did,  but  no  more  than 
that.  You  see,  I  don't  understand  good  citizens. 
They're  a  closed  book  to  me — like  radio  sets.  They 
may  do  almost  anything. 
JAMES  :  You've  got  me  in  a  corner. 
BULE:  What  can  I  say,  James?  I  haven't  got  you  in 
any  corner.  You've  got  yourself  there.  You  want  to 
be  a  chap  who  loves  his  wife  and  is  prepared  to  say: 
"  To  hell  with  Joe  Pearce  and  everybody  but  her." 
But  you  also  want  to  make  it  quite  clear  that  you're 
a  socially-minded  citizen  with  a  feeling  for  justice, 
who  thoroughly  disapproves  of  lying  and  subterfuge. 
JAMES  :  Both  those  things  happen  to  be  true. 
BULE:  I  know.  That's  your  bad  luck.  For  me  there's 
no  problem.  I  don't  feel  strongly  about  Justice  or 
Fairness  or  any  of  the  other  abstractions.  I  don't 
think  life  is  a  just  or  fair  business  and  I  don't 
see  much  point  in  swimming  against  the  tide. 
However,  I  intensely  dislike  inconvenience  and  dis 
comfort.  So  my  sole  reaction  to  this  mess  is  how  to 
get  out  of  it  as  conveniently  and  pleasantly  as  possible. 
JILL:  But  it  can't  be  like  that! 

BULE:  Madam,  on  the  other  hand,  is  in  the  opposite 
corner.  For  some  reason  that's  shrouded  in  mystery, 
she  simply  can't  wait  to  put  herself  behind  bars. 

JILL:  It's  just  that — that  I 

BULE:  Let's  say  it's  just  that  you're  currently  rather 
confused,  dear.  So  there  we  are,  Squire.  Three 
babes  in  the  wood,  in  search  of  salvation.  Taking  it 
by  and  large,  and  all  things  considered,  I  must  say  a 
discreet  silence  seems  the  most  sensible  thing  to  me. 
However,  I'll  keep  quiet,  or  go  to  the  police,  or  give 
evidence,  true  or  false,  or  any  dam'  thing  that  I'm 
told.  You're  the  boss  on  the  moral  front.  It's  for 
you  to  decide — for  the  three  of  us. 
[Pause.} 

379 


ACT    TWO,    SCENE    ONE 

JAMES:  All  right,  then,  we  keep  quiet.  And  I  wish 
us  all  joy  of  it. 

JILL:  As  it  happens,  it  isn't  for  Jim  to  decide.    It's 
for  rne.  And  I'm  not  having  that. 
BULE:  Oh,  really  \ 

JILL  (fo  James}:  You  know  you  won't  like  that! 
You  know  it! 

BULE:  Of  course  he  won't.  But  he'd  like  it  a  whole 
lot  better  than  the  other  thing. 
JILL:  You'd  never  forgive  me  if  I  did  that  to  you. 
JAMES  (irritably):  Don't  be  silly,  Jill.    There's  no 
question  of  forgiving  or  not  forgiving. 
JILL:  I  won't  do  it. 
JAMES  :  It's  the  only  thing  we  can  do. 
JILL:  No,  Jim!  No! 

JAMES:  Well,  good  God,  isn't  this  just  what  you 
were  asking  for  in  the  first  place? 
JILL:  Yes,  but  only  because  Bill  had  said  it  was  him. 
I  never  wanted  it  for  myself! 

JAMES  :  All  right,  then.  You're  the  one  who  wants  to 
tell  the  truth  and  Pm  the  one  who  insists  on  lying. 
Does  that  fix  it  for  you  ? 

BULE:  Gently,  Squire.    Moderate  the  voice.    Other 
wise  whether  we  actually  tell  other  people  about  it  or 
not  will  be  purely  academic. 
JILL:  I  don't  like  it.  I — I  don't  want  it  like  this. 

\Turns  suddenly  and  runs  upstairs  and  off.] 

BULE:  The  social  conscience  seems  to  be  infectious — 

or  is  it  contagious  ?  Now,  James,  if  you'll  forgive  my 

saying  so,  a  certain  amount  of  quick  thinking  has  got 

to  be  done. 

JAMES:  What  about? 

BULE:  Well,  if  you  could  cotton  on  to  the  fact  that  it 

was  my  car  that  hit  Joe,  so  could  somebody  else. 

380 


WAITING    FOR    GILLIAN 

Gradually,  if  not  with  your  Holmesian  speed.    So 

we'd  better  get  that  possibility  covered.    What  put 

you  on  to  it  in  the  first  place  ? 

JAMES  :  The  scratch,  and  its  being  at  the  right  height. 

BULE:  That's  all  right.  I've  painted  it  out,  so  nobody 

saw  it  except  ourselves  and  my  chauffeur,  and  I've 

sacked  him  anyway.   What  else  ? 

JAMES:  The   spotlight.    From   what   Elsie   said,   it 

sounded  as  if  the  car  was  being  driven  on  one,  and  I 

noticed  you  have  one  on  yours. 

BULE  :  Yes,  it's  a  long  shot,  though,  isn't  it  ? 

JAMES  :  They're  all  long  shots  but  they  add  up. 

BULE:  The  trouble  is,  if  I  sell  the  car,  it's  as  good  as 

a  signed  confession.  I'm  stuck  with  the  damn  thing. 

Do  you  think  Elsie  would  know  it  again  if  she  saw  it 

in  the  same  conditions  ? 

JAMES:  She    might.     But,    of   course,    there'd    be 

nothing  to  prove  that  it  was  the  same. 

BULE:  There  never  was  anything  to  prove  it,  my  dear 

chap.  If  only  Jill  hadn't  tried  to  fix  up  a  fake  alibi, 

bless  her,  you'd  never  have  nailed  me.  Jill's  all  right, 

of  course,  whatever  happens.  Apart  from  people  in  a 

pub  fifteen  miles  away,  nobody  even  knows  she  was 

with  me  that  evening,  let  alone  driving.    What's 

needed  is  an  alibi  for  me,  or  rather  for  the  car. 

JAMES:  Is  all  this  really  necessary?    The  chances 

are 

BULE:  The  chances  are  it  will  never  enter  anyone's 
head,  but  it  might.  And  if  some  keen-eyed  type 
should  suddenly  turn  up  and  ask  me  the  questions 
you  asked  me  tonight,  I  should  prefer  to  know  the 
answer,  for  all  our  sakes.  At  six  o'clock,  I  was  in 
that  pub.  At  quarter  to  seven,  I  was  at  home.  Where 
was  I  in  the  meantime,  James  ?  Why  is  it  quite  im 
possible  that  I  should  have  been  in  Tarrant's  Lane 
at  six  thirty  ? 

381 


ACT    TWO,    SCENE    ONE 

JAMES:  I  don't  care  what  you  say  to  them.    Does  it 

matter  ? 

BULE:  Of  course  it  does.    Like  Melbourne,  I  don't 

care  what  damn  lie  we  tell  as  long  as  we  all  tell  the 

same  damn  lie.    And  some  good  citizen  has  got  to 

confirm  it.  (Suddenly  slaps  his  knee.)  I've  got  it.  You. 

JAMES:  Me? 

BULE:  Yes.   I  knew  I  was  going  to  your  party  and  I 

sent  everybody  out.   When  I  got  back  the  place  was 

empty.  I  went  straight  home  from  the  pub,  got  there 

about  six  twenty,  and  came  on  to  you,  arriving  just 

after  seven.   In  fact,  at  the  time  that  matters  I  was  at 

home. 

JAMES:  But  you  said  it  had  to  be  confirmed. 

BULE:  It  is,  James,  it  is.    Because  at  just  about  six 

thirty  you  rang  me  up  from  town  and  spoke  to  me. 

At  home. 

JAMES:  For  God's  sake! 

BULE:    It's  formal  confirmation  in  case  we  need  it. 

You  asked  me  to  pick  you  up  at  the  station  later  in 

the  evening  because  you  knew  Jill  would  be  busy 

with  the  party.  Don't  look  so  unco-operative,  James. 

We  criminal  types  must  hang  together. 

\Tbe  front  door  opens  and  Elsie  enters.    She  walks  and 
speaks  slowly,  dully,  as  if  dotted.] 

ELSIE:  Excuse  me  coming  in  this  way,  sir.  I  must 

have  left  the  back  door  key  at  home.  I've  come 

straight  from  the  hospital,  see.   (Simply.)  He's  gone, 

sir. 

JAMES:  Yes,  I  know,  Elsie.  I'm  terribly  sorry. 

ELSIE:  I  thought  maybe  if  I  come  to  work,  it  might 

take  my  mind  off  it,  like. 

JAMES:  But  it's  Sunday,  Elsie. 

ELSIE:  Yes,  sir. 

38z 


WAITING    FOR    GILLIAN 

[Jill  comes  slowly  down  the  stairs.} 

ELSIE:  Oh,  madam,  I  was  just  saying  I  thought  it 
might  help  if  I  come  to  work.  If  you  don't  mind, 
madam.  Thinking  about  things,  it  makes  them  all 
seem  sort  of  on  top  of  you,  somehow,  if  you  know 
what  I  mean. 
JILL:  Yes,  I  do. 

\bule  takes  out  his  wallet.] 

BULE:  Look,  Elsie,  I  expect  you'll  be  needing  one  or 
two  things,  won't  you,  so  I'd  be  awfully  grateful  if 

you'd  let  me 

ELSIE  (at  once) :  Oh,  no,  sir.  Please.   It's  ever  so  good 
of  you  but  it's  not  as  if  it  was  anything  to  do  with 
you,  is  it? 
BULE:  The  point  is  that  I'd  like  to  help  and  I  can. 

Q 

JAMES  (curtly) :  Elsie  is  our  responsibility.  She  works 

for  us.   We'll  take  care  of  her. 

ELSIE  (to  Bule) :  It  was  very  good  of  you,  sir. 

BULE:  Well,  if  you  change  your  mind,  you  know 

where  I  live. 

ELSIE:  Thank  you,  sir. 

BULE:  Yes,  well — (to  James  and  Jill)  I'll  see  you  later. 

(He  goes.) 

JAMES    (gently):  Look,    Elsie,   it's    not   Mr.    Bule's 

place  to  do  it,  but  he's  quite  right.    You  will  be 

needing  help,  won't  you  ? 

ELSIE:  I  expect  we'll  manage,  sir,  thank  you. 

JILL  :  Yes,  but  how,  Elsie  ? 

ELSIE  (slowly) :  Well,  I  shall  get  a  widow's  pension.  I 

don't  know  how  much.   Mr.  Barnes  is  finding  out. 

And  then  mother's  got  hers.  And  then  I  thought  if 

I  could  go  out  a  bit  more,  madam,  Mrs.  Taylor  wants 

383 


ACT    TWO,    SCENE    ONE 

somebody,  and  that  would  be  so  as  we  could  manage. 

JAMES  :  Even  then,  It  won't  be  too  much  for  five  of 

you  nowadays. 

ELSIE:  Well,  you  see,  sir,  if  I  was  to  go   to  Mrs. 

Taylor  afternoons.  .  .  . 

JILL  :  But  how  about  the  children  ? 

ELSIE  i  They're  not  home  until  four,  except  baby,  and 

she's  all  right  with  mother  for  little  whiles. 

JILL:  Look  Elsie,  you  can't  do  it  all  by  yourseE 

You  must  let  us — (Elsie  suddenly  turns  and  steps  to  the 

French  windows.   She  stands  rigidly  as  the  noise  of  a  car 

disappearing  in  the  distance  is  heard.     s4s  the  noise  dies 

away,  her  shoulders  droop  and  her  whole  body  relaxes. 

She  turns  back  slowly  into  the  room.) 

ELSIE  (awkwardly):  I'm  sorry,  madam,  I 

JILL  (quietly) :  Why  did  you  do  that,  Elsie  ?  Why  did 

you  go  and  look  out  ? 

ELSIE:  To — to  see  it  go  by,  madam.    I  missed  it.   If 

I  didn't  look  it  might  go  by  again.   That  car  might. 

And  then  I  shouldn't  see  it. 

JAMES  :  You  mean  the  car  that  hit  Joe  ? 

ELSIE:  Yes,  sir. 

JAMES:  That  was  Mr.  Bule's  car  just  now,  Elsie. 

ELSIE  (apologetically)'.  Of  course.    I — I'm  sorry,  sir. 

JAMES  :  You  know,  Elsie,  the  car  that  hit  Joe  probably 

won't  ever  come  by  again.    There's  no  reason  why 

it  should. 

ELSIE  (quietly  >  but  with  absolute  conviction) :   It  will,  sir. 

One  day,  Eddie  reckons  it  was  someone  about  here. 

He  said  you  said  it  was. 

JAMES  :  I  told  him  I  thought  it  might  be. 

ELSIE:  Yes.    Well,  he  says  go  on  watching.    Watch 

for  the  light,  he  says.  I  might  not  know  the  car,  but 

I'd  know  the  light  again  anywhere. 

JILL:  Do  you  very  much  want  them  to — to  be  caught, 

Elsie? 

384 


WAITING    FOR    GILLIAN 

ELSIE  :  Who,  madam  ?  Them  that  did  it  ? 

JILL:  Yes. 

ELSIE:  Yes,  madam.     'Course.    They  ought  to  be 

caught  and  punished  proper,  oughtn't  they? 

JILL:  Jim,  I 

JAMES    (quickly):  They    might   not   even    know    it 

happened,  Elsie.    Quite  often  these  things  are  pure 

accidents. 

ELSIE   (stubbornly):  Eddie  reckons   they  must  have 

known. 

JAMES  :  But  he  can't  be  sure. 

ELSIE  (solemnly) :  No,  of  course  he  can't  be  sure.  But 

he  says  to  go  on  watching.    Find  the  car  with  the 

light,  he  says,  and  you'll  find  them. 

JAMES:  Yes,    well,   I'm   sure   Eddie   and    Sergeant 

Groves  will  look  after  that  side  of  it.    Meanwhile, 

there's  the  question  of  you  and  the  children. 

JILL  :  Yes,  you  must  let  us  help,  Elsie. 

ELSIE  :  You  mean  come  more  often  to  you,  madam  ? 

JILL:  If  you  like.    But,  anyhow,  you  must  have 

enough  to  live  on  and  we'd  like  to  see  to  it. 

JAMES  :  What  we  mean  is  that  we  don't  want  you  to 

be  worried  about  money,  and  we  should  like  to 

arrange  for  you  to  have  what  you  need. 

ELSIE:  It's  very  kind  of  you,  Mr.  Manning,  but  I 

shouldn't  wish  that. 

JAMES:  Why  not? 

ETSIE:  Well,  you  and  Mrs.  Manning's  always  been 

very  good,  sir.    It  isn't  right  for  you  to  give  me 

money.    It's  them  that  did  it  that  ought  to  pay. 

(Pause.)  I — I  think  perhaps  I  will  go  home,  after  all. 

JAMES  :  Yes,  of  course.  I'll  drive  you  back. 

ELSIE:  I — I'd  rather  be  alone,  sir.     If  you   don't 

mind.  .  .  . 

[She  turns  and  goes.  A.  moment's  silence.  Tben:~\ 
13  3^5 


ACT   TWO,    SCENE   ONE 

JILL:  Jim.  I  don't  think  I  can  take  it. 
JAMES:  What  exactly  can't  you  take? 
JILL  (jerkily)'.  Elsie  and  the  kids.  And  her  going  to 
the  window  every  time  a  car  goes  by.  She  doesn't 
care  about  our  money.  There's  only  one  thing  that 
interests  her.  I  don't  blame  her.  I  should  feel  the 
same  in  her  place.  I  carft  go  on  being  all  smiles  and 
having  her  say  how  good  and  kind  I  am,  when  if 
she  knew  she'd  hate  my  guts  and  like  to  see  me  dead. 
JAMES  :  The  argument  was  that  nothing  we  could  do 
would  bring  Joe  to  life  again  and  going  to  the  police 
would  only  hurt  you  without  helping  her.  I've 
accepted  that.  Now  it's  accepted  we  must  stick  to  it. 
JILL:  But  she  doesn't  see  it  like  that.  And  you  don't 
really  believe  it.  You  only  agreed  to  it  because  it 
was  me  and  I  was  your  wife  and  you  felt  you  had  to 
protect  me.  Bill  believes  it  all  right,  that's  the  way  he 
is.  But  it  isn't  right  for  you  and  you  know  it.  For 
God's  sake,  let  me  go  to  the  police  and  tell  them  the 
truth. 

JAMES  :  We  talked  that  out  and  decided  against  it. 
JILL  (desperately}'.  But,  Jim,  don't  you  see,  I'm  in  a 
much  bigger  mess  than  you  think.    I  haven't  got 
anybody.  Don't  you  see  ? 
JAMES  (slowly):  Haven't  you  got  me? 
JILL:  No.  Fm  not  on  the  level  with  you  or  Elsie  or 
the  police,  or  even  Bill.   I'm  just  wangling  around 
and  terrified  that  somebody  is  going  to  find  out  some 
of  the  dirt. 

[He  stares  at  her.} 

JAMES:  Are  you  trying  to  tell  me  that  you  are  having 

an  affair  with  Bule  ? 

JILL:  Of  course!  Of  course!  Of  course! 

[Pause.  Then:] 

386 


WAITING    FOR    GILLIAN 

JAMES  (quietly) :    I  hadn't  considered  that. 
JILL:  Of  course  you  hadn't.    You  asked  me  and  I 
said  "  no  ",  and  you  believed  me.  Surely  you  know 
by  now  that  I  always  lie  to  get  myself  out  of  a  jam? 

[Pause.} 

JAMES:  How  long? 

JILL:  About  three  months. 

JAMES  :  Pretty  nearly  ever  since  we've  known  him, 

JILL:  Yes. 

JAMES:  Are  you  in  love  with  him,  Jill? 

JILL:  No,   of  course  not.    It — it  was   the  purest 

nonsense.  Just  making  a  fool  of  myself  because  I  was 

bored  and — and  cross  with  you. 

JAMES:  Why  were  you  cross  with  me? 

JILL:  For  not  seeing  I  was  bored,  I  suppose.  Or  not 

doing  anything  about  it. 

JAMES  :  I  never  knew  you  were  as  bored  as  that. 

JILL:  How  could  you,  you  were  away  all  day.   I'm 

just  a  useless  idle  woman.    I've  got  no  children. 

What  was  there  for  me  to  do  but  make  a  fool  of 

myself? 

JAMES:  There  was  the  house. 

JILL:  I'm  no  good  at  that.   That's  why  I  can't  keep 

any  servants.    They  know  I'm  no  good  and  they 

despise  me  for  it.    So  do  I — but  somehow  that 

doesn't  make  any  difference. 

JAMES:  All  right,  there's  the  garden.    There  was 

plenty  to  do  there  and  you  just  dropped  it. 

JILL:  I  know,  I  know.  I've  let  you  down  about  that 

and  I  knew  you  thought  so.   But  you  don't  know 

what  it's  like  to  be  here  all  day  with  nobody  to 

talk  to  but  Elsie,  and — and  then  when  you  came  back 

to  find  I'd  forgotten  about  the — the  bloody  peaches, 

or  something,  and  that  you  were  cross  with  me. 

There's  never  been  a  time  for  ages  when  you  weren't 

387 


ACT    TWO,    SCENE    ONE 

cross  with  me  or  disapproving  inside,  or  disappointed 

and  thinking  I  ought  to  do  better. 

JAMES  :  But  why  didn't  you  tell  me  all  this  ? 

JILL:  How  could  I,  I 

JAMES  :  You  knew  I  wanted  you  to  be  happy.   Why 
didn't  you  just  tell  me  you  weren't? 
JILL  (helplessly) :  I  was  afraid  you'd  be  hurt  and — and 
hate  me.  I  knew  you  liked  it  here  and  I — I  thought  I 
ought  to  be  able  to  make  it  work  for  you. 
JAMES:  Well,  kicking  up  your  heels  with  Bill  Bule 
wasn't  likely  to  make  it  work  for  me  much,  was  it? 
JILL:  Of  course  not.    But  I  never  meant  that  to 
happen. 

JAMES  :  Then  why  did  it  ? 

JILL  (slowly) :  Well,  I  liked  him.  It  was  fun  to  be  with 
him  and  just  talk  nonsense  and  laugh  and  not  be 
disapproved  of. 

JAMES:  Is  he  in  love  with  you? 
JILL:  I  shouldn't  think  so. 
JAMES  :  If  I  divorced  you  would  he  marry  you  ? 
JILL:  I  don't  think  Bill  Bule  would   ever  marry 
anybody. 

JAMES  :  There  must  be  some  straightforward  explana 
tion  for  this.  What  is  it? 

JILL:  Oh,  Jim  darling,  you  want  everything  so 
clear-cut  and  tidy.  Don't  you  see  it  can't  always  be 
like  that?  At  least  not  for  me.  There's  no  simple 
answer.  If  I  say  I  suppose  I  do  love  him  in  a  way 
you'll  think  I  mean  something  more  serious  than  I  do. 
And  if  I  say  "  no,  I  don't-  love  him  at  all  "  you 
won't  believe  me.  I — I  don't  know  what  you  want 
from  me. 
JAMES:  The  truth. 

JILL:  Yes,  but  the  truth  isn't  just  one  thing.  It's 
a — a  sort  of  jumble  of  things. 

[Pause.] 

388 


WAITING    FOR    GILLIAN 

JAMES  :  Was  It  the  child  dying  ? 

JILL  :  That  was  one  of  them.  I  felt  I'd  let  you  down 

over  that.  I  still  do. 

JAMES  :  But  that's  absurd 

JILL:  No.  It  was  one  more  thing  I  could  do  for  you 

that  I  didn't  do  properly.  But  it  wasn't  just  that. 

JAMES  :  Would  it  have  helped  if  you'd  had  another 

baby? 

JILL  :  It  might  have. 

JAMES  :  Or  is  it  my  fault  ? 

JILL  :  Your  fault  ? 

JAMES  (slowly) :  I  can  see  that  Bill's  attractive.  .  .  . 

JILL:  It's  not  that,  Jim. 

JAMES:  Then  what  is  it?  What  can  he  offer  you  that 

I  can't? 

JILL:  Nothing,  really. 

JAMES  :  Oh  God,  Jillie,  stop  defending  and  be  helpful. 

I'm  trying  to  find  out  what  this  is  all  about. 

JILL  (slowly) :  Well,  it's  completely  silly,  but  I'm  not 

frightened  of  him  and  I  am  of  you. 

JAMES  :  Frightened  ?  of  me  ? 

JILL:  Of  course,  I  always  have  been.    There's  a — a 

sort  of  pattern  which  I  think  of  as  having  run  all 

through  our  married  life.  It's  of  having  been  awful 

or — or  inadequate  in  some  way,  having  spent  too 

much  or  forgotten  something,  or  what  have  you,  and 

knowing  that  I  have  and  probably  lying  about  it; 

and  of  your  finding  out  and  lecturing  me  about  it, 

very  gently  but  a  bit  disappointed  with  me;    and 

saying  that  I  was  sorry,  and  your  being  very  nice  about 

it,  but  saying  I  must  make  an  effort.   It  was  always 

that  I  must  make  an  effort.    And  you  were  always 

right,  and  I  knew  I  ought  to.  But,  darling,  I'm  a  bad 

thing.  I'm  lazy  and  shiftless  and  I  hate  making  efforts 

and  I  always  said  I  would  and  knew  I  shouldn't. 

I   can   remember  now  what  a  triumphant  feeling 

389 


ACT    TWO,    SCENE    ONE 

it  was  sometimes  when  you  decided  it  was  you  who 
ought  to  make  an  effort.  But  it  wasn't  really  any  good 
because  I  knew  that  if  you  decided  that,  you  would, 
you'd  really  do  it.  And  I  knew  that  I  shouldn't. 
JAMES:  What  a  ghastly  prig  you  make  me  sound. 
Why  on  earth  didn't  you  just  tell  me  to  go  to  hell? 
JILL:  Because  you  were  right,  don't  you  see.  You 
weren't  asking  for  anything  that  wasn't  perfectly 
reasonable. 

JAMES:  And  it's  been  like  that  ever  since  we  were 
married  ? 

JILL:  I  hope  I  haven't  made  it  sound  horrid.  I 
know  it's  completely  my  fault,  but  you  did  ask.  .  .  . 
What  are  you  going  to  do  about  it  ? 

[Pause.} 

JAMES  :  Is  it  finished  ? 

JILL:  Utterly.  I  shan't  see  him  again,  ever. 

JAMES  :  Then — let's  start  picking  up  the  pieces,  shall 

we? 

[Pause.] 

JILL:  I  think  you're  the  kindest  and  most  generous 

man  I  know. 

JAMES  :  Good.   So  do  L 

[He  smiles  at  her.  She  smiles  back.] 

JILL:  And  now — may  I  go  and  tell  Eddie  about 
Joe? 

[He  turns  away] 

JILL  (urgently) :  Phase,  Jim.  If  it  were  anyone  but  me 

you'd  be  the  first 

JAMES  (to  her,  simply) :  But  it  is  you,  Jillie.  And  we've 
just  decided  that  you're  my  -wife. 

Curtain 
390 


WAITING    FOR    GILLIAN 

Scene  2 

The  same.  A  few  weeks  later.  The  stage  is  empty.  A.  bell 
rings. 

After  a  moment,  James  comes  downstairs  and  goes  to  the 
front  door.  He  opens  it.  Sergeant  Groves  stands  there  with 
Eddie. 

GROVES:  Evening,  Mr.  Manning.   I  wonder  if  you 

could  spare  us  a  couple  of  minutes. 

JAMES:  By  all  means.    Come  in.    Drink,  Sergeant? 

Eddie? 

EDDIE:  No,  sir.    Not  when  I'm  on  duty,  sir.    Thank 

you. 

JAMES:  Is  this  an  official  visit? 

GROVES    (embarrassed);  Well,    sir,    not    really.      It's 

just 

JAMES:  What's  the  trouble? 

GROVES:  Well,  Mr.  Manning,  it's  like  this.    We've 

never  found  a  trace  of  that  car,  the  one  that  killed 

Joe,  and  the  way  we're  going  on  we  never  shall  and 

we  all  know  it. 

JAMES  :  Nobody's  ever  come  forward  ? 

GROVES:  No,  nobody  has,  neither  the  driver,  nor 

nobody  that  saw  any  such  car.  It's  a  dead  end. 

JAMES:  Well,  it  was  always  a  pretty  forlorn  hope, 

wasn't  it,  Eddie  ? 

EDDIE:  Maybe  it  was,  Mr.  Manning,  but  I  told  you 

I  was  going  to  find  that  car  and  I'm  going  to,  if  it 

takes  me  the  rest  of  my  life. 

JAMES:  Yes,  but  how?    After  all,  that  car  may  be 

anywhere  in  England.   It  may  belong  to  somebody 

who  doesn't  even  know. 

EDDIE  (quietly) :  No,  sir.  There  isn't  anybody  doesn't 

know  if  he  travelled  past  there  that  night,  even  if 

391 


ACT    TWO,    SCENE    TWO 

he  didn't  know  he  killed  somebody.    With  all  the 

broadcasting  and  appealing  that's  been  done  he'll 

know  he's  been  asked  to  come  forward.   It's  what  I 

always  reckoned.  Whoever  did  it  knows  he  did  it  and 

he's  lying  low. 

JAMES:  All  right,  supposing  we  accept  that.    If  he 

goes  on  lying  low,  what  can  you  do  about  it? 

EDDIE  (slowly) :  I've  thought  about  this  and  thought 

about  it,  Mr.  Manning.   And  I  keep  coming  back  to 

something  you  said  right  at  the  start — what  was  a 

big  car  doing  down  there  at  all  ?  It's  not  the  best  way 

through  from  anywhere  to  anywhere  else. 

JAMES:  It  might  have  been  somebody  that  didn't 

know  the  district  and  had  taken  a  wrong  turning. 

EDDIE  :  It  could  be  that,  sir,  I'll  agree,  but  what  you 

said  was  that  it  seemed  to  you  most  likely  it  was  a 

local  car  down  there,  and  I'm  going  to  start  by 

supposing  it  was.   I  know  you  feel  like  I  do  about 

this,  sir,  and  want  to  get  to  the  bottom  of  it,  and  I 

know  you'll  help  us  all  you  can. 

JAMES:  I    don't   quite   see   what   you    mean   about 

helping  you.    Do  you  mean  have  I  got  any  idea 

about  what  to  do  next  ? 

GROVES:  Well,  not  exactly,  sir.  It's  like  this.  A  few 

days  ago,  Eddie  here  got  a  tip.  .  .  . 

JAMES:  I  say,  I'm  sorry,  Sergeant.    Do  sit  down. 

Eddie.  .  .  . 

GROVES:  Thank  you,  sir.    (They  sit.)    Well,  Eddie's 

been  working  on  this  tip,  and  now  he's  told  me  about 

it  and  I  think  perhaps  we  ought  to  inquire  further. 

JAMES  :  A  tip  ?  What  sort  of  a  tip  ? 

GROVES:  It's  this,  sir.    (He  pulls  a  letter  out  of  his 

pocket.)    It's  addressed  simply  "  P.C.  Eddie  Cater, 

Maidley,  Bucks."  (He  reads.)  "  Have  you  found  out 

where  the  Hon.  Bule  was  at  half  past  six  when  Joe 

Pearce  was  killed  ?  If  he  says  he  was  home  it's  a  lie, 


WAITING    FOR    GILLIAN 

cause  he  wasn't,  but  somewhere  else.  And  ask  him 
about  a  scratch  on  his  car  and  how  it  got  there  and 
had  to  be  painted  out  quick.  This  is  true.  Good 
luck." 

[He  hands  the  letter  to  James,  who  studies  //.] 

JAMES:  One  of  those  gallant  affairs  with  no  address 

and  no  signature,  eh? 

GROVES:  Yes,  sir. 

JAMES:  London  postmark. 

GROVES  :  That  doesn't  mean  anything,  sir.  Anybody 

can  post  a  letter  in  London.   It  must  be  somebody 

local,  or  that  had  been  local,  or  how  would  he  know 

about  it? 

JAMES:  Yes.    Not  a  very  educated  writing,  but  not 

disguised,  I  should  say. 

GROVES:  That's  what  we  thought,  Mr.  Manning.    I 

reckoned  a  servant  that  had  been  at  Mr.  Bule's  or 

something  like  that.  Mr.  Bule  had  a  fair  lot  of  changes 

lately.   There  was  a  maid  and  a  chauffeur 

JAMES:  Oh  yes.  Chap  that  he  sacked  for  stealing. 
GROVES:  Did  he?  Well,  that's  the  sort  of  chap  it 
might  be.  Wouldn't  come  to  us  but  would  do  this 
out  of  spite. 

JAMES  (thoughtfully):  I  should  say  it's  probably  the 
chauffeur.  He'd  know  about  the  scratch  on  the  car. 
GROVES:  So  he  would.  Well,  the  proper  place  for  a 
letter  like  that  is  in  the  fire  usually,  but  Eddie  felt — 

well 

JAMES:  That  he  ought  to  see  if  there  was  anything  in 

it? 

GROVES  (apologetically)'.  Well,  we  haven't  anything 

else  to  go  on,  Mr.  Manning. 

JAMES:  I  don't  see  what  else  you  could  have  done. 

If  only  in  justice  to  Mr.  Bule. 

593 


ACT    TWO,    SCENE    TWO 

EDDIE  (grimly]\  That's  what  I  thought,  sir.  If  a 
chap's  afraid  to  sign  his  name  you  can't  take  much 
notice  of  what  he  says.  All  the  same,  I  thought  I'd 
better  follow  it  up  just  to  make  sure.  So  I  did,  and 
this  is  what  came  out  of  it. 

^Producing  his  note-book^ 

About  the  scratch.  No  doubt  about  that.  There  was 
a  scratch  and  It's  been  painted  out  like  the  chap  says. 
A  long  scratch  on  the  door.  No  way  of  telling  how 
long  ago  it  was  done,  of  course.  Then  about  Mr. 
Bule's  movements.  We  went  over  to  see  Mr.  Bule 
this  afternoon.  Here's  what  he  says.  (Deferring  to 
notebook.)  He  says  he  was  over  at  the  Three  Lions 
at  Levening,  the  night  of  the  accident,  that  he  left 
there  just  after  six  and  drove  home,  and  was  home  by 
twenty-five  past,  and  didn't  go  out  again  until  near 
on  seven  when  he  came  here. 

JAMES  :  Well,  he  certainly  came  here  because  of  the 
party  that  night.  And  certainly  most  of  the  people 
came  about  seven. 

EDDIE:  Yes,  sir.  Well  now,  Mr.  Bule  says  he  was 
home  by  6.25  and  this  chap  in  the  letter  says  he  wasn't. 
JAMES:  Well? 

EDDIE:  Well,  the  next  thing  we  did  was  to  go  over 
to  the  Three  Lions  and  see  if  they  remembered  Mr. 
Bule  being  there.   We  just  came  from  there  now. 
GROVES  (quickly) :  Of  course,  it's  not  a  question  of 
doubting  Mr.  Bule's  word,  Mr.  Manning,  but  after 

this  in  the  letter 

JAMES  :  Of  course,  Sergeant. 

EDDIE:  Well,  they  do  remember  Mr.  Bule  being  in 
because  they  know  him.  At  least  they're  pretty  sure 
it  was  that  evening.  It  seems  Mr.  Bule  was  there,  and 
he  was  with  a  lady.  They  didn't  know  her  and  can't 
recall  what  she  looked  like  and  they  reckon,  as  far 

394 


WAITING    FOR    GILLIAN 

as  they  can  remember,  they  did  leave  about  six. 

Bought  two  bottles  of  gin. 

JAMES  (after  a  moment):  In  fact,  they  confirm  what 

Mr.  Bule  said  about  leaving  at  six? 

EDDIE  :  Yes,  sir,  they  confirm  that  near  enough. 

JAMES  :  Well,  if  he  left  there  at  six  he  would  certainly 

be  home  before  half  past. 

EDDIE:  Yes,  sir,  if  he  went  straight  home. 

JAMES:  Well,  there's  no  reason  to  suppose  that  he 

didn't,  is  there  ? 

EDDIE  (gently) :  There's  the  lady,  sir.  Mr.  Bule  never 

said  anything  about  her.   Did  he  bring  a  lady  here? 

JAMES  :  Not  as  far  as  I  know.  But  how  does  she  come 

into  it? 

EDDIE  :  She  could  have  proved  what  he  said. 

JAMES:  But  surely  the  people  in  the  pub  prove  it 

anyway  ? 

EDDIE  :  Not  what  time  he  got  home,  sir.   But  if  the 

lady  went  home  with  Mr.  Bule,  she  could  prove  it. 

JAMES:  But  there's  no  reason  to  suppose  she  went 

home  with  him.   They  may  just  have  been  having  a 

drink  together  and  then  he  dropped  her  somewhere 

and 

EDDIE:  That's  just  it,  sir.  If  he  went  straight  home, 

he  would  be  there  by  half  past.   But  if  he  took  her 

somewhere  and  dropped  her,  then  he  might  not  have 

been.  Like  this  chap  says  in  the  letter. 

GROVES  (uneasily):  I  don't  know — I  don't  reckon — 

what  doj0#  say,  Mr.  Manning? 

JAMES:  What  do  I  say?    I  don't  quite  follow  you, 

Sergeant. 

GROVES  (reluctantly) :  Well,  it's  like  this,  Sir.  Mr.  Bule 

says  you  phoned  him  at  his  house  from  London  that 

evening  just  about  the  time  Joe  was  knocked  down 

and  killed.    Is  that  right,  sir?    Did  you  phone  Mr. 

Bule  at  six  thirty? 

395 


ACT    TWO,    SCENE    TWO 

[The  front  door  opens  and  ]i '11  enters.  She  mars  a  gay  cock 
tail  dress  and  is  apparently  in  high  spirits.} 

JILL:  The  prodigal  daughter  returns.    My,  my,  you 

all  look  very  solemn  and  serious.    What's  afoot? 

JAMES:  Nothing,  darling.    We'll  go  into  the  other 

room. 

JILL:  No,  no,  I'll  go.    The  atmosphere  is  positively 

pregnant  with  "  women,  keep  out ".    This   one's 

going  to  dip  her  head  in  the  ice  box  and  cool  down. 

What  a  grilling  day  it's  been,  hasn't  it,  Sergeant? 

GROVES:  Yes,  indeed,  ma'am. 

JILL:  You  aren't  grilling  my  husband  by  any  chance, 

are  you  ? 

GROVES  (laughing):  No,  ma'am.    Nothing  like  that. 

We  shan't  keep  him  a  moment. 

JILL:  That's  what  they  always  say.    I'd  better  pack 

your  tooth  brush  and  pyjamas,  darling,  just  in  case. 

[She  goes  upstairs} 

GROVES  (pleasantly)-.  Madam  seems  in  high  spirits, 
sir. 

JAMES:  She's  been  to  a  party. 

GROVES:  Ah,  that  accounts  for  it.  Though,  come 
to  think  of  it,  she  was  in  pretty  good  form  earlier  on 
today,  wasn't  she,  Eddie?  Nearly  bumped  into  us 
driving  out  of  Mr.  Bule's  this  afternoon.  Just  as  we 
were  driving  in.  Thought  it  was  Mr.  Bule  himself 
at  first,  until  I  recognised  your  Austin.  And  then,  of 
course,  I  saw  the  madam.  Well  now,  sir,  about  that 
telephone  call,  if  you  could  confirm  what  Mr.  Bule 
says,  it  would  make  it  a  whole  lot  easier  all  round. 
Can  you  confirm  it,  sir? 

[Pause — then:} 

JAMES  (in  a  dead  voice) :  Yes.    That's  quite  right.    I'd 
396 


WAITING    FOR    GILLIAN 

forgotten.    I  phoned  Mr.  Bule  at  his  house  that 
evening  from  London  just  before  half  past  six. 
GROVES  (with  a  broad  smile)-.  Well,  there  you  are, 
Eddie.  What  did  I  tell  you  ?  Thank  you,  sir.  That's 
just  what  we  wanted  to  hear.   Very  sorry  to  trouble 
you  but  I  wanted  to  satisfy  Eddie  here  that  what  this 
fellow  said  in  the  letter  was  just  spite.    Somebody 
who  doesn't  like  Mr.  Bule  most  likely.  The  last  thing 
we  want  to  do  is  to  have  any  suspicions  of  a  gentle 
man  like  Mr.  Bule,  do  we,  Eddie  ? 
EDDIE  (quietly):  'Course  not.   But  it's  like  you  said, 
Mr.  Manning,  there  hasn't  got  to  be  nobody  you  rule 
out  'til  you're  certain.   Nobody.  You  are  sure  about 
the  time  of  your  call,  sir  ? 
JAMES  (flatly) :  Yes.   I'm  sure. 

\Eddie  turns  slowly  and  goes  out.] 

GROVES  (confidentially):  I'm  sorry  about  this,  Mr. 
Manning.  I  know  Mr.  Bule's  a  friend  of  yours  and  of 
course  I  didn't  much  like  it,  but — well,  Eddie's 
worked  very  hard  on  this.  Between  ourselves,  I  wish 
he'd  stop  bothering  his  head  about  it.  I  never 
reckoned  it  was  any  good  and  he's  spent  time  on  it 
that  could  have  been  better  used.  But  there  it  is,  it's 
his  brother-in-law,  see,  and  he's  very  stubborn, 
Eddie  is,  when  he  gets  an  idea  in  his  head.  Very 
stubborn.  Well,  good-night,  sir. 
JAMES:  Goodnight,  Sergeant. 
GROVES  :  And  thank  you  for  clearing  the  air,  sir. 

[He  goes.    James  is  alone.    After  a  moment  Jill  comes 
downstairs.] 

JILL:  Sorry  I  barged  in  on  you  like  that,  darling. 
What  did  they  want? 

JAMES  (slowly):  They  wanted  me  to  confirm  Bill's 
whereabouts  the  evening  Joe  Pearce  was  knocked 

397 


ACT    TWO,    SCENE    TWO 

down.  I'd  agreed  to  say  I  phoned  him  from  London, 
if  you  remember. 

JILL  :  Yes,  of  course  I  remember.  Well,  you  told  them 
and  now  everything's  all  right,  I  suppose. 

[////  helps  herself  to  a  drink.} 

JAMES  (slowly):  Have  you  anything  to  tell  me,  Jill? 
JILL:  No,  the  Lovells  do  was  just  the  usual  crowd.  I 
think  I  drank  too  much.  I  hate  women  who  get  tight. 
Does  it  show? 
JAMES:  No. 

JILL:  Barry  was  at  the  Lovells.   I've  been  talking  to 
him  about  the  Pearce  business. 
JAMES:  Why? 

JILL:  Oh,  he  brought  it  up.  I  didn't.  He  asked  me 
how  Elsie  was  and  said  it  was  a  damn  shame.  I 
agreed  with  him.  We  had  quite  a  pow-wow.  By 
the  way,  did  you  know  Barry  was  House  Surgeon 
at  Guy's  when  Daddy  was  taking  his  Pre-Med  ? 
JAMES:  No. 

JILL:  Nor  did  I.  The  old  boy  was  full  of  compli 
ments.  Said  Daddy  was  the  most  brilliant  student  of 
his  year  and  a  whole  lot  more  flim-flam.  I  said  some 
thing  about  never  really  knowing  the  parent  because 
he  had  to  go  and  get  himself  killed  trying  to  climb 
that  ruddy  mountain  when  I  was  an  infant,  and 
Barry  suddenly  went  up  in  smoke.  Said  he  wasn't 
trying  to  climb  it.  He  climbed  it.  Apparently  the 
rest  of  the  party  got  stuck  on  the  lower  plateau,  or 
whatever  you  call  it,  but  Daddy  went  on  alone  to 
the  summit.  His  heart  snuffed  out  and  there  he  died. 
But  he'd  got  to  the  top.  Did  you  know  that?  I 
didn't.  Oh,  well!  I've  been  talking  to  Elsie  too. 
JAMES:  What  about? 

JILL:  Oh,  I  was  being  sweet  to  her.    I  always  am, 
you  know.  She  thinks  I'm  kind,  and  nice  and  rather 

398 


WAITING    FOR    GILLIAN 

wonderful.  It's  funny — I  wanted  to  say,  "  And  give 
the  bathroom  a  special  e  do  '  and  anyhow  I  killed 
your  husband,"  just  to  see  her  face.  No,  that's  not 
true.  I  only  just  thought  of  it.  But  don't  you  think 
it's  a  nice  idea  ? 
JAMES:  No. 

JILL:  But  don't  you  really,  darling?    After  all,  it 
would  be  so  easy.    Supposing  I  did?    Supposing  I 
went  and  told  Elsie  and  Eddie  and  everybody.  Then 
they'd  send  me  to  prison  and  after  that  you'd  like  me 
again.    That's  what's  wrong  with  us,  you  know.   I 
say,  I  hope  you're  not  taking  any  notice  of  this.  I  do 
seem  to  be  remarkably  tight.   Sorry,  partner. 
JAMES  (carefully)-.  What  else  did  you  do  today? 
JILL:  Oh,   nothing  wildly  exciting.    Just  puttered 
about  here,  I  think.   Why  ? 

JAMES   (after  a  moment}:  I  called  you  from  town. 
There  was  no  reply. 

JILL:  Oh,  yes,  I  remember,  I  had  my  hair  done.  Do 
you  like  it  ? 

JAMES  (suddenly,  bluntly)*.  Look,  I  know  you've  been 
to  Bule's,  so  you  needn't  go  on. 
JILL  (slowly) :  When  have  I  ? 

JAMES  :  This  afternoon.  As  you  drove  out  you  nearly 
crashed  into  Eddie  and  Sergeant  Groves  going  in. 
The  next  time  you  want  to  commit  successful 
adultery  I  suggest  you  take  a  few  driving  lessons 
first.  You  might  just  get  away  with  it. 
JILL  :  Jim,  it  isn't  a  bit  like  you  think  1  It  isn't,  really ! 
JAMES  (biasing):  What  I  think  is  that  you  were  un 
faithful  to  me,  that  you  lied  about  it,  that  you 
promised  it  was  all  over  and  that  within  a  few  days 
you  sneaked  back  to  your  lover  when  you  thought  I 
wasn't  looking.  Is  that  true  or  not  ? 
JILL  (wearily) :  Of  course  it  is.  That  wasn't  what  I 
meant. 

399 


ACT    TWO,    SCENE    TWO 

JAMES  :  Then  what  did  you  mean  ? 
JILL:  Only  that — no,  it's  no  good — you  wouldn't 
believe  me. 

JAMES:  Why  should  I?  Have  you  ever  told  me  the 
truth?  About  anything?  Think  hard,  I'm  really 
interested. 

JILL  (suddenly):  Take  me  away,  Jim!  For  God's  sake 
take  me  away!  Don't  you  see  that  I'm  in  a  mess  here 
all  round?  It  isn't  Bill,  it's  the  Pearee  business.  I 
can't  even  think  about  it  unless  I  can  get  away  some 
where  and  get  some  sense  into  things.  Let's  start 
again,  somewhere — anywhere. 

JAMES  :  How  can  we  possibly  start  again  ?  Don't  you 
see  that  I  haven't  the  faintest  idea  what  sort  of  person 
you  really  are  now  ? 

JILL  (gradually) :  I  wanted  to  tell  and  you  stopped  me. 
I  knew  what  it  would  do  to  us.  You've  hated  your 
self  for  lying — and  hated  me  for  turning  you  into  a 
liar.  Oh,  you  haven't  said  anything,  but  I  know. 
You  haven't  .  .  .  wanted  me  since,  have  you? 
(Pause.  Slowly.)  And  you — you  aren't  there  for  me 
any  more,  either,  Jim.  Something's  .  .  .  gone.  I 
don't  know  what,  but — something.  You — you 
aren't  you  any  more.  (Pause.)  Bill  .  .  .  was  still 
there,  the  same  as  always.  Because  he  doesn't  care — 
about  lies  and  deceit  and  the  rest  of  it.  That's  the 
way  he  is.  It  hasn't  done  anything  to  him.  There  has 
to  be  someone  .  .  .  somewhere.  So  I  went  to  Bill. 
Do  you  believe  me? 

JAMES:  I  neither  believe  you  nor  disbelieve  you.  I 
just  don't  follow  these  vague  metaphysical  justifica 
tions  for  what  after  all  is  no  more  and  no  less  tha#, 
common  or  garden  adultery.  The  plain  hard  fact  is — 
he's  your  kind  and  I'm  not.  He's  never  done  a  day's 
work  in  his  life  and  nor  have  you.  He's  never  taken 
an  inch  of  responsibility  for  anything  and  nor  have 

400 


WAITING    FOR    GILLIAN 

you.    Compared  with  him  I've  no  doubt  I  seem 

pretty  pompous  and  dull.    Well,  let's  face  it,  by  his 

standards   I   am.    But  I   warn   you   of  this.     Bule 

wouldn't  lift  his  little  finger  to  keep  you  off  the 

streets.   He  isn't  interested  in  anything  in  the  world 

but  the  Honourable  William  Stephen  Fitz-Harding 

Bule,    and   if  you   think   he   is,   you're   deceiving 

yourself.   Oh,  he  likes  you  fine.   Why  shouldn't  he  ? 

He's  got  a  good  free  mistress  who  can  even  pay  for 

her  share  of  the  drinks.  Well,  I  wish  you  joy  of  him. 

A  man  who  comes  to  my  house  as  my  guest,  poses 

as  a  friend  of  mine  and  under  cover  of  this  seduces 

my  wife. 

JILL:  It  was  my  fault! 

JAMES:  He  knows  that  I've  forgiven  you  and  that 

we're  trying  to  get  together,  yet  he  joins  you  in  doing 

me  dirt  again  the  moment  my  back  is  turned  1 

JILL:  Jim,  this  has  gone  so  far  that  in  justice  to  Bill, 

I  must  tell  you  something.   I  never  did  break  it  off 

with  him  as  I  promised. 

JAMES  :  I  repeat,  have  you  ever  told  me  the  truth  about 

anything? 

JILL:  I  told  you  I  loved  you  and  that  was  true. 

JAMES:  I  used  to  think  you  and  I  spoke  the  same 

language.    We  don't.   It's  taken  a  man  falling  off  a 

bicycle  to  make  it  clear  to  me,  but,  by  God,  it's  clear 

to  me  now! 

JILL  (quietly}'.  Does  that  mean  you  want  me  to  go ? 

JAMES:  Yes,  it  does.  It  means  exactly  that. 

[Pause.] 

JILL  (slowly):  You've  never  known  me,  have  you? 
Eleven  years  .  .  .  and  we've  been  alone  together  all 
the  way. 

Curtain 
401 


ACT  THREE 


Scene  i 

The  same.  After  dinner ',  a  few  weeks  later.  The  furniture 
has  been  rearranged.,  and  gives  now  more  the  impression  of  a 
bachelor's  home.  Dr.  Frewen  is  at  the  bookshelf >  studying 
a  volume.  James  enters  down  left  with  a  box  of  cigars. 

JAMES:  Do  you  smoke  these  things,  Barry? 

DOCTOR:  No,  thank  you. 

JAMES  :  Have  you  read  that  one  ? 

DOCTOR:  Yes,  Mary  gave  it  to  me  for  Christmas.   I 

thought  it  a  very  bad  book  in  a  very  good  binding. 

JAMES:  I  just  got  it  to  read  during  the  night. 

DOCTOR:  Oh,  that  reminds  me.   (Takes  a  small  bottle 

from  his  pocket \  hands  it  to  James.)   A  poor  exchange 

for  an  excellent  dinner,  but  they  should  do  the  trick. 

JAMES  (studying  bottle]-.  You  know,  I've  never  taken 

one  of  these  before.    The  one  thing  I  could  always 

do  was  sleep. 

DOCTOR  :  You  will  again — with  those. 

[Elsie  enters  with  coffee  fray.] 

Capital  dinner,  Elsie.    Ate  far  too  much,  of  course. 

Do  you  always  feed  the  brute  like  that  ? 

ELSIE:  We  all  got  to  keep  our  strength  up,  haven't 

we — so  as  we  can  go  on.  I  always  say,  if  your  tummy's 

all  right,  the  rest  of  you  will  take  care  of  itself,  won't 

it? 

DOCTOR:  You  can  have  my  job  tomorrow,  my  dear. 

You're  qualified. 

ELSIE  (to  James):  Will  you  have  the  wireless,  sir? 

JAMES:  No.  Not  tonight.  Black,  Barry? 

DOCTOR:  Thanks.  (To  Elsie.)  How's  the  baby? 

ELSIE:  Better,  thank  you,  Doctor.    (Handing  coffee^ 

402 


WAITING    FOR    GILLIAN 

I  was  a  bit  worried,  leaving  her  in  the  evenings,  but 
it's  only  till  madam  comes  home  and  then  of  course 
Mother's  there,  and  Eddie  looks  in  on  his  beat. 
Ever  so  good  with  the  children,  Eddie  is.  Policemen 
always  are,  aren't  they  ? 
JAMES:  Thank  you,  Elsie. 
ELSIE  (going) :  Yes,  sir. 

JAMES:  Don't  bother  with  the  dishes.    I'll  see  to 
them  later.   You  get  on  home. 
ELSIE  (indignantly):  Leave  you  to  wash  up  by  your 
self,  sir  ?  Whatever  next  ? 

[Exit  Elsie.} 

DOCTOR:  Nice  woman,  that.    Plenty  of  guts.    She 

cook  for  you  every  night? 

JAMES:  Three  times  a  week.   Her  mother  takes  care 

of  the  children  and  she's  glad  of  the  extra  money. 

It  works  very  well. 

DOCTOR  (quietly} :  "  Till  madam  comes  home." 

[Pause.} 

JAMES:  Yes,  well,  how  about  a  brandy? 

DOCTOR:  No,  thank  you. 

JAMES  :  I  think  I  will.    (Moves  to  drinks  tray  and  helps 

himself.} 

[Pause.] 

DOCTOR  (suddenly} :  Jim,  why  don't  you  stop  being  an 
ostrich?  Your  wife  did  you  dirt,  you  chucked  her 
out.  Fair  enough.  Let  the  tongues  wag. 
JAMES  (deliberately}:  Look,  Barry,  Jill  had  a  break 
down.  She  was  ordered  abroad  by  her  doctor.  You 
gave  me  your  word. 

DOCTOR:  Yes,  I  did,  didn't  I?  All  right,  if  that's  the 
way  you  want  it. 

403 


ACT    THREE,    SCENE    ONE 

JAMES  :  I  prefer  not  to  wash  my  dirty  linen  in  public. 
.  DOCTOR:  Oh,  come,  that's  not  the  reason  for  all  this 
flummery,  and  you  know  it.    You're  leaving  the 
door  open. 

[Pause.] 

JAMES  (slowly) :  She's  my  wife,  Barry. 

DOCTOR:  Well,  is  she,  or  isn't  she?    Six  weeks  ago 

you  told  her  to  go  and  she  went.    Since  then  she's 

been  on  the  Continent  with  Bill  Bule.   That's  hardly 

marriage  as   I   understand   it.     Am   I   being   very 

impertinent? 

[Pause.] 
JAMES:  No. 
[Pause] 

DOCTOR  (earnestly)-.  Look,  Jim — this  is  none  of  my 
business,  but  what  have  you  done  about  it  since — 
except  not  sleep  at  night  ? 
JAMES  (hesitating :  What  should  I  have  done  ? 
DOCTOR:  What  do  most  husbands  do  when  there's  a 
crash?  Talked  to  your  solicitors? 

JAMES:  Well,  no,  I 

DOCTOR:  Told  your  bank  to  stop  her  allowance? 

JAMES  :  Not  yet.   You  see 

DOCTOR:  Told  a  cock  and  bull  story  to  keep  the 
locals  quiet  and  stood  holding  the  front  door  open 
for  her  to  walk  through  it  whenever  she  wants  to  ? 

[Pause.] 

You've  started  a  war,  Jim,  and  you're  trying  to  fight 
on  both  sides.  It  won't  work. 

[Pause.] 

404 


WAITING    FOR    GILLIAN 

JAMES:  I  can't  really  believe  it's  serious.    Not  with 
Bule.  It  doesn't  make  any  kind  of  sense. 
DOCTOR:  Why  do  you  say  that? 
JAMES  :  I  know  Jillie. 
DOCTOR:  Are  you  sure? 

JAMES  :  She  happens  to  have  been  my  wife  for  eleven 
years. 

DOCTOR  :  My  dear  man,  what's  that  got  to  do  with  it  ? 
(Pause.)   She  came  to  see  me,  you  know. 
JAMES  (surprised):  When? 
DOCTOR:  The  day  after  you  sacked  her. 
JAMES  :  You  mean  she  was  ill  ? 
DOCTOR:  Not  physically.    She  asked  me  to  recom 
mend  her  a  good  psychiatrist. 
JAMES:  Why? 

DOCTOR:  She  .  .  .  wants  to  find  herself.  That's 
unusual,  you  know,  Most  people  want  only  to  escape 
from  themselves.  But  Jill's  like  her  father,  as  I 
remember  him. 

JAMES:  Where  did  you  send  her? 
DOCTOR  :  I  didn't.  She  needed  a  shoulder  to  lean  on. 
I  offered  her  mine.  What  a  pretty  woman  she  is,  isn't 
she  ?  She  looked  most  decorative,  sitting  there  in  my 
surgery,  telling  her  troubles. 

JAMES  (carefully):  Just  .  .  .  what  did  she  tell  you? 
DOCTOR:  I'm  sorry.  The  consulting  room  is  like  the 
confessional — sacred.  But  if  it's  any  help  to  you — 
(deliberately)  she  told  me  nothing  that  you  don't 
know  already. 

\There  is  a  long  pause  as  the  two  men  look  at  each  other. 
Then  James  turns  away.] 

JAMES  (taut,  tense) :  My  God,  Barry,  what's  the  right 

thing  to  do?  What's  right? 

DOCTOR:  For  her?  Or  you?  Or  society? 

JAMES  :  For  all  of  them. 

405 


ACT    THREE,    SCENE    ONE 

DOCTOR  :  Yes,  that's  the  trouble  with  people  like  you. 

Only  God  can  be  sure  of  getting  things  right  for 

everybody — and  even  He,  one  imagines,  must  find  it 

a  problem  at  times.  But  you  want  to  work  it  all  out 

and  produce  a  solution  that  would  satisfy  a  Chartered 

Accountant.    (Pause.)    I  understand  Jill  wanted  to 

tell.  You  stopped  her. 

JAMES  :  What  else  could  I  do  ? 

DOCTOR:  What  would  you  have  done  if  it  had  been 

some  other  woman? 

JAMES:  It  wasn't  some  other  woman.    It  was  my 

woman.    What  kind  of  a  man  would  give  his  wife 

away?  It  would  almost  certainly  mean  a  jail  sentence. 

She  couldn't  possibly  take  it,  a  girl  like  Jill.  Even 

Bule  saw  that. 

DOCTOR:  Are  you  sure  it  wasn't  jou  that  couldn't 

take  it? 

JAMES:  All  right.  I  couldn't  take  it.  I'd  do  the  same 

again. 

[Pause.] 

DOCTOR:  Jill  says  your  stopping  her  sent  her  back  to 
Bule. 

JAMES  :  I  can't  accept  that,  Barry.  I'm  sorry. 
DOCTOR:  I  can.  Good  heavens,  Jim,  don't  you  see 
you  destroyed  the  one  thing  that  held  you  two  to 
gether?  Most  men  have  only  one  really  dependable 
quality  for  a  woman  to  cling  to.  You  had  integrity. 
The  salt  of  the  earth  type,  as  they  say.  (Slowly.)  But 
if  the  salt  hath  lost  its  savour.  .  .  .  (Pause.)  '(Kising.) 
Well,  I  must  be  off.  Someone  may  be  needing  a 
doctor.  I  have  enjoyed  my  evening,  thank  you  so 
much.  Oh  .  .  .  (pointing  to  pills  on  coffee  table) 
take  a  couple  of  those  and  get  to  bed  early.  Good 
night,  my  dear  fellow. 

[He  exits.] 

406 


WAITING    FOR    GILLIAN 

[James  stares  after  him.  'Elsie  comes  /«,  collects  the  coffee 
cups,  puts  them  on  the  tray.} 

ELSIE:  I've  done  you  a  grapefruit  for  the  morning, 

sir,  {picks  up  tray)  and  there's  a  kipper  in  the  larder, 

if  you  feel  like  fish  for  a  change. 

JAMES  (abstracted)'.  Oh.   Right. 

ELSIE:  Will  that  be  all,  sir? 

JAMES:  Er — yes.  Thanks,  Elsie. 

ELSIE:  I'll  say  goodnight,  then. 

JAMES:  Goodnight.      .     .     .     Oh — Elsie.    Isn't  it 

Maureen's  birthday  tomorrow?    Here.    (Takes  out  a 

note.)   Put  that  in  her  ditty-box  for  me.   (Puts  note  on 

tray.) 

ELSIE     (overcome):  Five    pounds!      Oh,    sir\      You 

shouldn't.    Whatever  will  Maureen  do  with  all  that 

money  ? 

JAMES  :  A  fiver  is  hardly  a  fortune. 

ELSIE  :  Well,  thank  you  ever  so  much,  I'm  sure,  but — 

five  pounds.     People   are   wonderful.  .  .  .  (She  goes 

out  with  the  coffee  tray.) 

[James  finishes  his  brandy,  picks  up  the  pills  thoughtfully. 
He  is  about  to  go  up  to  bed  when  he  hears  the  noise  of  a 
powerful  car  approaching  at  speed.  Suddenly  the  spotlight 
sweeps  across  the  French  windows.  James  goes  to  the 
French  windows.,  throws  them  open,  steps  on  to  the 
terrace.  He  stands  a  moment  looking  out>  then  crosses 
quickly  to  the  hall  and  throws  open  the  front  door,  and  goes 
out.  The  car's  engine  cuts  out.  It  has  obviously  stopped 
outside  the  house.  Bale  is  heard  off.} 

BULE    (off):  Oh,    hello,    Squire.     Greetings    from 

Granada. 

JAMES  (off) :  What  are  you  doing  here  ? 

BULE  (off) :  Look,  can  I  come  in  for  a  second  or  will 

407 


ACT    THREE,    SCENE    ONE 

you  feel  bound  to  chuck  me  through  the  nearest 

window  ? 

JAMES  (off) :  Come  in. 

[Bale  enters ^  followed  by  James.} 

JAMES:  I  thought  you  were  still  abroad. 

BULE:  We  came  back  ten  days  ago.  Look,  I'm  sorry 

to  barge  in  on  you  like  this  but  do  you  happen  to 

have  Madam? 

JAMES  (quickly] :  What's  happened  ? 

BULE:  I — 1  just  thought  Jill  might  have  been  in 

touch  with  you,  that's  all.    (Looking  about,  glancing 

upstairs.)   She's  not  here,  is  she  ? 

JAMES:  No.  Why? 

BULE:  Oh,    nothing    important.      Sorry    to    have 

troubled  you.   (Moves  to  go.) 

JAMES  :  If  you've  had  a  row  or  something,  for  God's 

sake  tell  me  because 

BULE  (turns) :  Not  exactly  a  row,  it's  just  that  she  was 

a  bit  upset  and  I  thought 

JAMES  (flatly) :  She's  walked  out  on  you. 

[Pause.] 

BULE:  For  the  moment.  I  imagine  she'll  come  back. 

JAMES  :  Why  did  she  walk  out  ? 

BULE:  Really,  James,  I  don't  think  there's  any  point 

in  going  into  it.  (Moves  to  go.) 

JAMES  :  There's  every  point.   (Blocks  bis  path.) 

BULE:  All  right.    (He  comes  down  into  the  room)    Jill 

stayed  in  my  London  shack  while  I  went  up  north 

for  a  few  days.  We  were  going  down  to  Cornwall  this 

weekend  and  I  found  I'd  made  a  double  date  and 

couldn't  go. 

JAMES  :  So  after  leaving  her  alone  in  London  all  the 

408 


WAITING    FOR    GILLIAN 

week  you  came  back  and  were  going  straight  off 

again  ? 

BULE:  Well,  yes,  that's  what  it  comes  to.   It  was  a 

pure  piece  of  forgetfulness  and  I  realised  she'd  be 

disappointed.    But  she  went  rather  surprisingly  off 

the  handle. 

JAMES:    What  did  she  say? 

BULE:  Oh,  you  know  the  sort  of  thing  women  do  say 

when  they're  in  a  flap.   Wild  talk. 

JAMES:  You  mean  she  said  she'd  kill  herself? 

BULE:  No,  I  don't  think  she  did.  She  said  she  wished 

she  were  dead  but  it  was  all  rather  incoherent. 

JAMES    (impatiently)*.  You    must    have    understood 

something. 

BULE:  Well,   one  thing  she  kept  saying  was,   "I 

wanted  to  and  you  wouldn't  let  me  and  now  it'll 

never  come  right."  What  particular  thing  she  wanted 

I've  no  idea.    But  it  was  apparently  something  I'd 

stopped  her  from  doing.    Coming  back  to  you,  I 

imagined.   Seems  I  was  wrong. 

JAMES  (sharply) :  Say  that  again. 

BULE:  Say  what  again? 

JAMES  :  What  she  kept  saying. 

BULE  :  Well,  I  can't  be  sure  of  the  words  but  it  was 

something  like  "  you  wouldn't  let  me  and  now  it  will 

never  come  right."    I  tried  to  calm  her  down  and 

then  I  went  into  the  next  room  to  telephone  and  when 

I  came  back  she  was  gone.    The  doorman  at  the 

flats  said  he  heard  her  tell  the  cab  driver  "  Marylebone 

Station  "  so  I  thought  she  must  be  coming  back  here 

and  I  drove  straight  down.    She's  not  at  my  place, 

she's  not  here.   Where  the  devil  is  she? 

JAMES  (slowly) :  Unless  she's  put  herself  in  the  river, 

which  I  don't  think  she  has,  I  think  I  know  where 

she's  gone. 

BULE:  Where? 

409 


ACT    THREE,    SCENE    ONE 

JAMES:  I  think  she's  gone  to  Elsie's. 
BULE  :  Oh. 

JAMES:  That  was  what  you  wouldn't  let  her  do — 
only  it  wasn't  you  she  was  talking  about,  it  was  me. 
BULE  :  I  see.  Yes,  that  never  occurred  to  me.  (Pause.} 
Well,  what  now,  general?  You're  the  boss  on  the 
moral  front.  Let  the  men  in  the  ranks  know  their 
orders. 

[Pause.] 

JAMES  (suddenly} :  What  time  did  she  leave  your  place  ? 
BULE:  About  eight. 

JAMES:  Eight.  That  means  she  was  going  for  the 
eight-seventeen.  It's  supposed  to  get  in  at  nine- 
twenty,  but  it  never  does.  It's  nine  twenty-two  now. 
Yes,  we  might  just  beat  her  to  it.  Come  on. 

[James  turns  off  the  lights  as  be  and  Bit/e  exit.  Noise  of 
car  driving  off.  The  spotlight  weeps  across  the  window.  Then 
the  room  is  in  darkness.  Almost  at  once  Jill  appears  in 
the  French  windows.  She  comes  slowly.,  hesitantly  into  the 
dark  room.  She  makes  her  way  gradually  across  to  the 
fireplace.  As  she  leans  on  the  mantelpiece  'Elsie  enters  from 
the  kitchen.  She  is  wearing  her  coat^  obviously  about  to  go 
home.  She  sees  the  French  windows  open,  crosses  and  closes 
them.  As  she  turns  she  sees  ////.] 

ELSIE  (starts  violently} :  Madam  I 
JILL  (quietly) :  Hello,  Elsie. 

[Moves  to  light  switch^  turns  on  light.] 

ELSIE:  Oh,  madam,  what  a  turn  you  gave  me.   I — I 

didn't  know  you  was  here 

JILL:  Yes  ...  yes,  I— I'm  here  ...  at  last.    And 

410 


WAITING    FOR    GILLIAN 

now  that  you're  here  ...  we  can  get  it  all  over 

with.  .  .  .  (Sits  down  suddenly') 

ELSIE:  Well,  I  was  never  so  surprised  to  see  anyone 

in  all  my  life.  Didn't  even  know  you  was  in  England, 

madam.   Thought  you  was  still  abroad. 

JILL:  No  ...  I  ...  got  back  a  few  days  ago. 

ELSIE:  I  expect  you  feel  ever  so  much  better,  don't 

you,  for  the  change? 

JILL:  Soon.  I'll  feel  better  soon. 

ELSIE:  That's   right.    The  master  will   be    pleased 

you're  back.  I'll  call  him. 

JILL  (rising  quickly) :  No,  don't  do  that,  I (Sways, 

puts  her  hand  to  her  head,  sits  down  again.) 

ELSIE   (anxiously,   moving  to  her):  You're   not   well, 

Madam. 

JILL  (weakly) :  I'm  all  right.  It's  just  that  I — I  haven't 

eaten  all  day  and  I'm  .  .  .  rather  tired. 

ELSIE:  Nothing  to  eat!  Well,  goodness,  no  wonder. 

I'll  get  you  something  right  away. 

JILL:  No,  don't  go!    I — I  couldn't  take  anything. 

Really. 

ELSIE:  But,  madam,  you  must  eat 

JILL:  No — I — I'm  all  right.   Just  give  me  a  minute 

to (trying  to  steady  herself.)   Tell  me  .  .  .  about 

the  children.   How  are  they? 

ELSIE  (still  anxious  about  Jill) :  Baby  had  a  nasty  cough, 
but  it's  better,  thank  you,  madam.  She  cried  a  lot, 
of  course,  and  its  a  job  to  quiet  her.  Joe  was  wonder 
ful  with  her. 

[Jill's  expression  tightens.} 

Look,  madam,  you're  not  well — let  me  get  the  master 

and 

JILL:  No.  It's  you  I  came  back  to  see. 
ELSIE:  Me,  madam? 

411 


ACT    THREE,    SCENE    ONE 

JILL:  Yes.  I  went  to  the  cottage.  Maureen  said  you 
were  here.  I — didn't  know. 

ELSIE:  I've  been  working  evenings,  madam,  while 
you  was  away.  Is  something  wrong,  madam  ? 
JILL:  It's  been  wrong.   But  it's  going  to  come  right 
now.  It's  got  to  come  right.  You  see,  Elsie  dear 

\The  spotlight  of  the  Lagonda  sweeps  across  the  windows.  In 
a  flash  E/sfe  is  at  the  window ',  staring  out.] 

ELSIE:  That's  it,  madam!  That's  the  one!  The  one 
that  killed  Joe! 

[E/sle  turns  and  stares  at  the  door>  riveted.  "Pause.  Then 
it  is  thrown  open.  James  strides  in.  He  stops  dead  as  he 
sees  Jill.  They  stare  at  each  other.} 

JAMES  :  We've  been  looking  for  you. 

[Bute  enters} 

\Rlsie  stares  at  Bute,  then  turns  to  James.} 

ELSIE  (at  a  loss)-.  Mrs.  Manning's  .  .  .  not  well,  sir. 

She — she  ought  to  be  in  bed. 

JAMES:  Yes.    Thank  you,  Elsie.    Don't  worry.    I'll 

take  care  of  my  wife.    You  get  on  home  now. 

Goodnight. 

JILL:  No,  don't  go,  Elsie!  Jim,  I'm  going  to  tell  her ! 

JAMES  (firmly:  You  can  see  Elsie  in  the  morning, 

dear. 

JILL  :  Jim,  you  wouldn't  stop  me  now !  You  wouldn't 

do  that  to  me. 

JAMES  (gently):  Look,  my  dear,  you've  got  everything 

a  bit  mixed  up. 

4iz 


WAITING    FOR    GILLIAN 

JILL:  No!    No!   It  isn't  mixed  up!    You're  mixing 

it  up  and  I  had  it  all  clear! 

BULE:  Jill,  you're  talking  nonsense. 

JILL  (ignoring  him,  to  James) :  You  didn't  believe  it  was 

right.  If  only  you'd  stuck  to  what  you  believed!  But 

you  swung  round  and  said  the  other  thing  and  then  I 

got  confused  because 

JAMES  :  I  thought  I  was  giving  you  what  you  wanted. 

JILL  (wretchedly):  I  know,  I  know.    But  you  were 

wrong. 

JAMES:  Well,  let's  talk  about  it  when  we're  alone, 

shall  we  ? 

JILL  (desperately)*.  No!    No!    If  we're  alone,  you'll 

talk  me  out  of  it  again  and  it  will  never  come  right 

and  we  shall  go  on  and  on.   (Turns  to  Elsie.)  It  was 

me,  Elsie,  it  was  me! 

BULE:  Jill,  this  is  absurd! 

JILL:  Jim,  help  me!   Help  me! 

BULE:  Jill,  I'm  sure  Elsie  can't  make  head  or  tail  of 

all  this.   I  know  I  can't.    So  come  along  and 

JAMES  :  Shut  up !  (Turns  to  Elsie.,  deliberately.)  Elsie. 
What  my  wife  is  trying  to  tell  you  is  that  she  was 
responsible  for  Joe's  death. 

[A  moment's  pause ,  then:\ 

BULE  (gently)-.  Oh,  James,  James.    A  bad  general. 

You  never  let  the  man  in  the  ranks  know.  .  .  . 

ELSIE  (in  an  odd  voice >  staring  at  Jill) :  She  doesn't  know 

what  she's  saying,  sir. 

BULE:  Of  course  she  doesn't. 

ELSIE  (whipping  round  on  him):  No,  Mr.  Bule,  she 

doesn't  know  what  she's  saying.    But  there's  some 

that  could  tell  about  that  if  they  had  a  mind  to,  or 

so  Eddie  reckons. 

BULE  (smiling):  Well,   well,  and   what   does   Eddie 

reckon  ? 

413 


ACT    THREE,    SCENE    ONE 

ELSIE  (fearlessly] :  He  reckons  you  were  driving  down 

the  lane  sneaking  up  to  Mr.  Manning's  back  gate 

after  madam  and  that's  how  it  happened.  And  now 

you  know. 

BULE  (still  smiling :  Eddie's  a  hell  of  a  good  detective. 

That's  exactly  what  did  happen,  Elsie. 

JILL:  It's  not  true,  Elsie.    He  was  there,  but  I  was 

driving  the  car. 

ELSIE:  No,  no,  madam.    It  was  him.   Eddie  knows, 

see,  but  he  can't  prove  it.  You  wouldn't  do  that,  not 

drive  on  and  leave  him  there,  madam.  You  wouldn't 

do  that.  It  was  him,  and  that's  his  car.  I  see  it  come 

tonight  like  it  did  the  night  it  killed  Joe. 

JILL  :  It  was  that  car,  but  I  was  driving. 

ELSIE  (appealing  to  ]ames) :  Mr.  Manning.  .  .  . 

JAMES:  It's  true,  Elsie.  It  was  Mr.  Bule's  car  that  hit 

Joe,  but  Mrs.  Manning  was  driving  it. 

[Elsie  stands  quite  still.  Then:} 

ELSIE  (almost  in  a  whisper) :  But  he  said  he  done  it. 
JAMES  :  He  was  only  trying  to  protect  my  wife. 

[Elsie  turns  slowly  and  looks  at  JitL] 

ELSIE  (wonderingly) :  And  you  never  said,  madam. 
JILL:  I  didn't  know.   Oh,  God,  I  didn't  know  I  hit 
him.   (She  puts  her  hands  over  her  face.) 

ELSIE:    You  didn't  know?    But  you  must  have 

JILL:  I  didn't.   And  then  when  I  found  out,  they 

wouldn't  let  me  say ! 

BULE:  You  see,  Elsie,  it  was  like  this.  .  .  .  (He  stops. 

Eddie  stands  in  the  doorway.) 

EDDIE  (to  James):  Good  evening,  sir.   Excuse  me 

comin'  in  like  this,  sir,  but  is  that  your  car  outside, 

Mr.  Bule? 

414 


WAITING    FOR    GILLIAN 

BULE:  Yes.  It's  mine. 

EDDIE  (very  still) :  I  thought  I  recognised  it.  Haven't 
seen  it  around  much  in  these  parts  lately.    You've 
been  abroad,  sir,  I  understand? 
BULE:  Yes,  that's  right. 

EDDIE  (not  taking  his  eyes  off  Rule) :  I  saw  the  car  stand 
ing  there — with  the  lights  full  on.  So  I  turned  them 
off.  I  hope  I  did  right,  sir  ? 

BULE:  Yes,  thanks.  I  forgot  about  the  lights.  .  .  . 
Smoke,  Eddie? 

EDDIE:  No,  thank  you,  sir.    (Turns  to  Elsie).   Have 
you  seen  Mr.  Bule's  car,  Elsie?  You  come  and  look 
at  it.   (Takes  her  by  the  arm  and  leads  her  up  to  the  door. 
He  opens  it  with  a  sudden  movement,  the  spotlight  shines 
full  on  his  face  and  Elsie's.   Looking  off.)   Well  ...  I 
never  turned  the  spotlight  off,  did  I  ?  I'm  sorry,  sir. 
BULE  :  There's  a  separate  switch.   (Pause.) 
EDDIE:  It's  a  lovely  car.  I  dare  say  you  saw  it  when 
Mr.  Bule  came,  didn't  you,  Elsie? 
ELSIE  (in  a  low  voice) :  Yes.   I  saw  it. 
EDDIE   (carefully):  Ever   seen   it   round   your   way, 
Else? 

[No  answer.] 

EDDIE:  Ever  seen  it  in  Tarrant's  Lane? 

[No  answer.  Elsie  moves  away  from  Eddie  and  the-  door. 
With  a  sudden  change  of  manner,  he  follows  her.] 

EDDIE  (suddenly  tense  and  urgent) :  Else,  a  car  come  by 
your  place  one  night.  It  killed  your  Joe  and  left  you 
a  widow  and  by  yourself,  and  the  kids  without  a 
father.  Them  that  was  in  it  didn't  care  and  didn't  so 
much  as  stop.  I've  been  looking  for  that  car  ever 
since,  see? 


ACT    THREE,    SCENE    ONE 

ELSIE  (frightened) :  Yes. 

EDDIE:  You  saw  the  car  that  killed  your  Joe.    You 

saw  it  go  by.  Was  it  anything  like  that  car  out  there 

now? 

[No  answer.] 

EDDIE  (twisting  the  sword) :  They  killed  your  Joe  and 

drove  on  and  left  him  lying  there  in  the  road  like  a 

dog.    Was  that  the  car? 

ELSIE  (with  a  great  cry) :  No!  No,  it  wasn't!   Not  like 

it! 

EDDIE  (quickly) :  Why  not  ?  You  said  it  was  a  big  car. 

You  said  so  all  along  and 

ELSIE  (trembling) :  Wasn't  like  that.   Not — not  so  big 
— and  not  the  same,  Eddie.   Not  the  same. 
EDDIE  :  Are  you  sure  ? 

ELSIE  (facing  him,  with  sudden  resolution) :  Yes,  Eddie. 
Yes,  I  am.  And  you'll  never  get  me  to  say  different. 
Never.  See  ? 

[Silence,  then:} 

EDDIE:  I  see.  .  .  .  All  right.  Then  I  can't  do  no 
more.  I've  done  my  best  for  you  and  Joe,  see.  But  I 
can't  do  nothing  without  you  and — I  see  how  it  is. 
Goodnight,  Mr.  Manning.  Goodnight,  madam. 
Fm  sorry  for  disturbing  you. 

[He  goes  to  the  door.} 

JILL  (suddenly) :  Eddie. 

[Eddie  turns  in  the  doorway.] 

BULE  (quickly) :  Jill,  don't  be  a  fool 


416 


WAITING    FOR    GILLIAN 

ELSIE  (overlapping):  No,  madam!  No! 

JAMES    (violently}:  Stop   it!!     (He  goes  deliberately  to 

Jill's  side.     Very  gently  and  tenderly.}     Go   on,    my 

darling. 

JILL  (trembling) :  Finish  it  for  me — finish  it. 

JAMES  :  No.   You  can  do  it — alone. 

[Jill  gives  him  a  look  of  deep  gratitude.    For  a  moment 
their  eyes  hold.   Then  she  turns  slowly  to  Eddie '.] 

JILL    (steadily}:  Eddie,    you    won't    need    Elsie.     I 
killed  Joe. 

[No  one  moves  but  Elsie ,  who  turns  away  with  a  little  sob. 
Tableau.   The  lights  fade.] 


Scene  2 

Flo's  CafL   A  year  later. 

A  small  drab  cafe  in  a  dingy  street  in  a  "London  suburb. 
The  tablecloths  on  the  three  or  four  tables  are  far  from  clean. 
On  a  counter  to  the  right,  currant  buns  and  slices  of  cake. 
Behind  the  counter  a  big  brass  tea  urn.  On  the  wall  opposite ; 
a  clock.  At  back  of  the  counter •,  a  string  curtain  of  beads 
leads  to  the  back  parlour.  Up  centre  a  door  to  the  street. 
When  it  opens  a  bell  pings.  Through  the  window  at  the 
back  can  be  seen  part  of  a  big,  ugly  stone  building.  It  is 
early  morning. 

At  rise,  Flo  is  busying  herself  behind  the  counter.  A  woman 
sits  at  a  table  sipping  tea.  In  a  moment  the  door  bell  pings 
and  James  enters.  He  is  dressed  in  city  clothes,  dark  homburg 
and  overcoat  as  at  the  beginning  of  the  play.  He  looks  about 
him.,  tentatively,  uneasy  in  these  surroundings. 

14  417 


ACT    THREE,    SCENE    TWO 

THE  WOMAN  (gets  up,  mutter s] :  'Bye  Flo.   (She  exits.) 
FLO:  Close  the  tent,  dear.  It's  nippy  this  morning. 

[James  closes  the  door.,  comes  to  a  table  and  sits.] 

What'll  it  be,  dear?  Tea  and  toast,  buns,  slice  of  seed 
cake? 

JAMES:  Er — just  tea,  please.   For  two.  . 
FLO:  Ah.  You're  waiting,  are  you? 
JAMES  :  I  beg  your  pardon  ? 

FLO:  For  someone  over  the  way.  Oh,  don't  mind 
me,  dear,  I've  been  in  meself.  I  have,  honest.  That's 
why  I'm  open  at  six  every  morning.  I  know  what  it's 
like  to  come  out  and  be  needing  a  cuppa  and  no  one 
to  offer  you  one.  Yes,  Fingers,  they  used  to  call  me. 
Fingers  Flo.  On  account  of  I  couldn't  keep  me  hands 
to  meself,  you  understand.  Terrible,  I  was.  Pickin' 
pockets,  stealin'  from  shops.  You  never  saw  any 
thing  like  it.  Mind  you,  I'm  over  it  now.  Know  what 
cured  me?  Taldn'  this  place.  Oh,  I  know  it's  not 
much  to  look  at.  It's  the  position  see.  Whenever  I 
feel  the  old  itch  comin'  over  me,  all  I  got  to  do  is  to 
take  a  look  out  the  winder  at  Buckin'am  Palace 
opposite — and  it's  "  Get  thee  be'ind  me,  Satan."  I 
tell  you,  you  can't  see  the  devil  for  dust. 

[F/o  pours  tea  from  the  urn.] 

JAMES:  Is  that  clock  right? 

FLO  :  Bang  on  the  dot,  dear.  What  time  are  they  goin' 

to  open  up  them  pearly  gates  for  her  ? 

JAMES  :  I  understand  it's  at  seven. 

FLO  :  Won't  be  long  now,  then.  Three  more  minutes, 

that's  all,  then  Bob's  your  uncle.  .  .  .  What  did  they 

give  her? 

JAMES  :  A  year. 

418 


WAITING    FOR    GILLIAN 

FLO:  A  year!   Poor  soul.    Still,  you'll  have  seen  her 
on  visiting  days,  so  you  won't  be  strangers. 
JAMES  :  We've  not  met  since  the  trial. 
FLO:  Go  on! 

JAMES  :  I  wanted  to  come.  She  .  .  .  asked  me  not  to. 
FLO  :  Still,  there's  always  the  post.  You  wrote  to  each 
other,  didn't  you  ? 
JAMES  :  Yes.  We  wrote. 

!» 

[Flo  sets  the  tea  on  the  table.] 

FLO:  She'll  be  all  right.    Women  are  tough,  you 

know.   Tougher  than  men. 

JAMES  :  I  .  .  .  think  perhaps  that's  true. 

FLO  :  'Course  it's  true.  You  keep  your  pecker  up  and 

listen  for  the  clock  tower — you'll  hear  it  striking  the 

hour  in  half  a  jiffy — and  then,  you  mark  my  words, 

your  lady'll  come  marching  in  through  that  door, 

large  as  life  and  twice  as  handsome,  before  you  can 

say  Jack  the  Ripper,  just  you  see  if  she  doesn't.   I'll 

be  in  the  back.  If  you  want  me — just  give  a  shout. 

[Flo  disappears  through  the  bead  curtains.  James  sits  facing 
the  door.  He  looks  at  his  watch.  Suddenly  the  prison  clock 
starts  to  strike  seven.  His  eyes  are  riveted  on  the  door. 
The  chimes  are  still.  Silence.  Then  suddenly  the  doorbell 
pings,  the  door  opens,  and  Jill  is  there. 

She  stands  quite  still  in  the  doorway. 

She  wears  the  same  clothes  as  in  the  previous  scene,  but  she 
has  no  make-up  on  and  her  hands  are  gloved.  They  stand 
and  look,  at  each  other,  absorbed  by  the  physical  sight  of 
each  other  after  twelve  months.] 

JILL  (at  length,  quietly] :  Hello,  Jim. 
JAMES:  Hello. 

419 


ACT    THREE,    SCENE   TWO 

\Wtthout  taking  her  eyes  from  her  husband  Jiil  closes  the 
door  behind  her.  She  comes  to  the  nearest  chair.  His  hat  is 
on  it)  he  removes  it.  She  sits.  He  sits  opposite  her.] 

JAMES:  Tea? 

JILL:  Thanks.   Oh — let  me  do  it. 

[She pours.  Then:] 

% 

They're  difficult,  aren't  they — the  first  moments.    I 

knew  they  would  be. 

JAMES:  It'll  be  all  right  in  a  minute. 

JILL:  Yes. 

[Pause.] 

JAMES:  You  look.  .  .  .  the  same. 

JILL:  The  same?  Do  I? 

JAMES:  Except  .  .  .  there's  something.  .  .  .  Oh,  yes. 

I  know — gloves.    I  never  could  get  you  to  wear 

gloves. 

JILL:  It's  just  that  my  hands  are  rough — from  the 

work. 

[Pause.] 

JAMES  :  Was  it — hard  work  ? 

JILL:  No.  .  .  .  Your  hands  get  rough — and  after  a 
time  the  smell  of  the  sacking  clings  to  your  body, 
but — no,  not  hard  .  .  .  not  really. 

[Pause.] 

Did  you  get  my  last  letter?    Of  course.    Or  you 
wouldn't  be  here.   Have  you  been  waiting  long  ? 
JAMES:  No.  Not  long. 

420 


WAITING    FOR    GILLIAN 

JILL:  I   thought   you'd  prefer  to   meet   in   here — 
instead  of  right  outside  the  prison. 
JAMES:  Yes. 

[Pause.] 

JILL  (brightly}'.  How  are  you?  Have  you  been  busy? 

I  expect  youVe  been  terribly  busy,  haven't  you? 

How's  the  garden? 

JAMES:  The  tulips  are  out,  and  there  are  still  some 

of  the  dafTs  left  that  we  planted  below  our  bedroom 

window — if  you  remember. 

JILL  (warwly) :  Yes,  of  course,  I  remember. 

[Pause.] 

JAMES  (with  a  sudden  quiet  intensity) :  How  long  have  we 

got? 

JILL  (quietly) :  I  told  Barry  to  be  here  at  ten  past.   Is 

that  all  right  ?  I  didn't  trust  myself  to  be  strong  and 

sensible  for  more  than  ten  minutes.    I'm  not  sure  I 

can  manage  it  that  long.    You'll  have  to  help  me, 

darling.  .  .  . 

JAMES   (with   urgency):    Look — Jillie — are   you  suret 

Have  you  really  .  .  .  thought  this  through  ? 

JILL  (gravely):  Yes.    I've  thought.    We  both  have. 

Haven't  we  ? 

JAMES  :  Now — at  this  moment — I'm  thinking  I  want 

you  back  more  than  I've  ever  wanted  anything  in  the 

world. 

JILL:  I  want  to  come  back,  at  this  moment,  more 

than  anything  in  the  world.  That's  why  I  didn't  want 

us  to  be  together,  until  we'd  made  up  our  minds.  So 

we  wouldn't  be  influenced  by  the  wrong  things — 

like  the  way  you're  looking  at  me  now. 

JAMES  :  How  am  I  looking  at  you  ? 

421 


ACT    THREE,    SCENE    TWO 

JILL:  Like  a  lover. 
[Pause.] 

JAMES  :  Where  will  you  go  ? 

JILL:  To  a  hotel.    Just  for  tonight.    Tomorrow  I'll 

find  a  room — hotels  are  expensive — and  then  look  for 

a  job.  Probably  something  in  the  dress  line. 

JAMES  (urgently);  You  don't  have  to  do  this.    You 

don't  have  to  do  any  of  it. 

JILL  :  Jim,  you  promised !  If  you  fight  me,  you'll  win. 

I — I'm  just  not  strong  minded  enough  to  fight  back. 

[Pause.] 

JAMES:  I'd  almost  rather  you  were  going  to  Bill. 

JILL  (suddenly,  almost  gaily):  Oh.   I  had  a  letter  from 

Bill.    Asking  if  by  any  chance  I  would  care  to 

"  make   an  honest   man   of  him ".    I   was   rather 

touched. 

JAMES  (incredulous} :  You  mean  he  actually  asked  you 

JILL:  Oh,  I  don't  think  he  really  wanted  to  marry  me, 

it  was  a  sort  of  beau  geste.  He  said  if  I  said  yes  we'd 

go  on  a  trip  round  the  world.  And  if  I  said  no,  he'd 

go  anyway — to  drown  his  sorrows.    He's  probably 

drowning  them  now  with  some  lovely  in  Honolulu. 

.  .  .  How's  Elsie  ? 

JAMES:  She's  going  to  be  married. 

JILL:  No!  Who? 

JAMES  :  Ted  Armstrong  from  Schroder's  Farm. 

JILL  (warmly):  Oh,  Fm  glad,  I'm  very  glad.  (Quietly) 

And  you,  Jim  ?   How  about  you  ? 

JAMES  :  I'm  married  already. 

JILL:  It's  never  too  late  to  start  over  again  ...  so 

they  say. 

422 


WAITING    FOR    GILLIAN 

JAMES  (carefully) :  There's  a  point  you  reach  where  it 

is  too  late. 

JILL  (very  still)-.  What  .  .  .  point  is  that? 

[Pause.] 

JAMES  (gradually,  his  eyes  never  leaving  her) :  The  point 
where  loving  and  being  in  love  have  come  together. 
Where  the  girl  you  first  loved  for  her  loveliness,  for 
the  joy  she  gave  you  in  being  alive  and  young — 
where  you  find  yourself  loving  her  more  when  her 
eyes  are  tired,  and  her  hair's  in  curlers  .  .  .  when 
her  cheeks  are  shiny  and  there's  grease  on  the  pillow 
beside  you.  You  know  then  you've  found  the 
mystery  of  marriage.  You  know  then  she's  your 
wife — your  person — forever.  You  know  then  there 
can  never  be  ...  anyone  else. 

[Jill  turns  away,  choking  back  the  tears.} 

JAMES  (steadily) :  Come  home,  Jillie. 

JILL  (fighting for  control) :  Don't!  Don't.  I'm  trying  so 

hard  to  be  honest  and  clear — don't  make  me  mess  it 

all  up  again  for  you. 

JAMES:  You  wouldn't  be  messing  it  up.    You'd  be 

mending  it. 

JILL:  I'm  not  ready!  Not  yet. 

JAMES:  But  why?  Why? 

JILL:  Darling,  you  always  want  everything  put  into 

words,  and  some  things  just  don't  go.   (She  half  turns 

towards  the  prison.)  (Haltingly.)  In  there — we  all  wore 

grey.    All  the  women.    Some  of  them  looked  quite 

pretty  in  it.    It  looked  awful  on  me  (struggling  to 

explain  something  intangible)    I'm  not  a  grey  person, 

darling.     I — I'm   black,    or  white — I   don't   know 

which — yet.   I  only  know  I'm  not  grey.   I  can't  be 

423' 


ACT    THREE,    SCENE    TWO 

grey.  I've  tried.  It  tears  me  apart  and  you  too. 
You've  seen  how  it  does.  (Quietly.,  but  deliberately.) 
I  have  to  find  out  what  I  am,  Jim.  I  have  to  find  out. 

[Pause — James  rises.] 

JAMES  (at  length — quietly)-.  You'd  better  not  keep 
Barry  waiting. 

[Jill  rises  slowly.  Suddenly  she  turns  to  him.] 
JILL:  Will  you  wait? 

[He  looks  at  her  in  wonder.  Their  eyes  hold.  Suddenly  his 
arms  go  round  her  and  he  kisses  her  passionately.  *They 
cling  together.] 

[She  stands,  not  moving — then  quite  suddenly  she  smiles.] 

JILL  (very  simply):  I  feel  suddenly  like  I  used  to  feel 
when  you  brushed  my  hair  for  me. 
JAMES:  Liberated? 
JILL:  Like  a  bird. 

[She  smiles  radiantly.  Then  she  moves  to  the  door  and 
opens  it.  T^he  bell  pings.  The  noise  of  rain  is  heard.] 

JAMES:  Jillie.    (She  turns.)    You'd  better  take  this. 
It's  raining.   (Holds  out  his  umbrella  to  her.) 
JILL  (simply):  Oh,  no.    I  shall  like  the  rain.    (For  a 
moment  she  stands  in  the  doorway.    She  smiles  at  him. 
Then  she  is  gone.) 

[He  stands  looking  after  her,  motionless,  the  umbrella  in  his 
hand.] 


Slow  curtain. 


424 


BOTH  ENDS  MEET 

by 
ARTHUR  MACRAE 


Copyright  1954  by  Arthur  Macrae 


Applications  for  performance  of  this  play  by  amateurs 
must  be  made  to  Samuel  French  "Ltd,  z6  Southampton 
Street,  Strand,  London,  W.C.z.  Applications  for  the 
performance  of  this  play  by  professionals  must  be  made  to 
H,  M.  Tennent  Ltd.,  Globe  Theatre,  Shaftesbury  Avenue, 
London,  W.i.  No  performance  may  take  place  unless  a 
licence  has  been  obtained. 


H.  M.  Tennent  Ltd.  presented  Both  'Ends  Meet  at  the 
Apollo  Theatre,  London,  on  June  9,  1954,  with  the 
following  cast: 

MR.    WILSON  Richard  Pearson 

MARGARET   ROSS  Brenda Bruce 

TOM   DAVENPORT  Arthur  Macrae 

CLARISSA  DAVENPORT  Jane  Downs 

EDWARD   KINNERTON  Richard ULaston 

JIMMY  SCOTT- KENNEDY  CyrttfLaymond 

SIR  GEORGE  TREHERNE  A.lan  Webb 

LORD  MINSTER  Mile s  Malkson 

Directed  by  Peter  Brook 
Setting  by  Alan  Tagg 


CHARACTERS 


MR.    WILSON 
MARGARET   ROSS 
TOM    DAVENPORT 
CLARISSA   DAVENPORT 
EDWARD    KINNERTON 
JIMMY    SCOTT-KENNEDY 
SIR    GEORGE    TREHERNE 
LORD   MINSTER 


SCENES 

The  entire  action  of  the  play  takes  place  in  the  living  room 
of  a  flat  in  Knightsbrictge. 

Time:  The  present. 


ACT  ONE 

Morning. 

ACT  TWO 

SCENE  i.    The  same  day^  afternoon. 
SCENE  2.    The  same  evening. 

ACT  THREE 

The  following  morning. 


ACT   ONE 

The  living  room  of  Tom  Davenport's  flat  in  Knlghtsbridge. 
The  flat  is  on  the  ground  floor ;  and  in  addition  to  the  door 
of  the  room,  there  are  French  windows  leading  into  a 
garden. 

It  is  morning. 

Mr.  Wilson  is  sitting  in  a  chair.  He  wears  an  old  raincoat, 
is  holding  his  bowler  hat  on  his  knees  and  looks  faintly 
ill  at  ease  as  he  ga^es  round  the  room. 

Suddenly  the  telephone  rings,  startling  Mr.  Wilson.  He 
looks  at  the  telephone,  half  rises,  sits  again,  then  goes 
and  lifts  the  receiver. 

MR.  WILSON:  Hullo?  (He  listens,  then  peers  short 
sightedly  at  the  number  on  the  transmitter.  Definitely.) 
Yes.  This  is  Mr.  Tom  Davenport's  house.  .  .  . 
Mr.  Tom  Davenport  .  .  .  yes.  (Nervously  talkative.) 
No,  he's  not  in,  but  I  know  he's  expected,  because 
I'm  waiting  to  see  him,  and  the  charlady  said.  .  .  . 
(He  is  cut  short.)  Yes,  with  pleasure.  (He  takes  a 
pencil  from  the  pad  beside  the  telephone.)  Well,  this  is  an 
honour.  I've  had  the  pleasure  of  meeting  you 
.  .  .  twice  .  .  .  but  you  wouldn't  remember  .  .  . 
it  was  sort  of  business,  so  I  didn't  get  the  opportunity 
to  say  how  much  I've  enjoyed  your  performances  on 
the  stage.  No,  I'm  not  a  friend  of  Mr.  Davenport's, 
rm  just  waiting  for  him.  What,  when  I  met  you? 
Well,  both  times  I  was  waiting  at  the  stage  door. 
Well,  I  am  a  fan,  but  actually  as  I  said,  it  was  .  .  . 
you  know  .  .  .  business.  (Embarrassed.)  Well,  I 
don't  expect  you  want  to  talk  about  it.  (With  nervous 
jocularity.)  Actually  I  was  waiting  with  one  of  those 
annoying  bits  of  paper  .  .  .  (he  waves  the  writ  which 
he  has  unconsciously  taken  from  his  pocket)  .  .  .  about 
.  .  .  you  know  .  .  ,  silly  old  Income  Tax.  A 

429 


ACT    ONE 

writ.  Yes,  that's  right.  I  ...  Hullo?  Hullo? 
(The  caller  has  gone,  and  he  replaces  the  receiver?) 

[He  rises,  takes  a  few  irresolute  steps ,  then  moves  up  to  the 
French  windows.  As  he  takes  a  step  through  the  windows 
to  look  at  the  garden,  the  voices  of  Tom  Davenport  and 
Margaret  Ross  are  heard.  Mr.  Wilson  stops  and  looks 
towards  the  door.  The  door  is  flung  open,  and  Maggie  and 
Tom  enter.  Tom  is  carrying  one  or  two  heavy  parcels,  and 
Maggie  has  a  well-filled  carrier  bag.  They  are  in  the  middle 
of  a  heated  argument^ 

TOM:  You  are  absolutely  and  completely  wrong. 
MAGGIE  :  I  am  absolutely  right. 

\Torn  dumps  his  pare  els  I\ 

TOM:  Listen!  (He  is  about  to  speak.} 
MAGGIE  :  No !  You  listen  1  It  is  the  first  night  of  your 
revue.  Think  what  that  means.  .  ,  . 
TOM:  It  won't  be  the  first  night  of  the  first  revue  I've 
ever  written.  I  have,  after  all.  .  .  . 
MAGGIE:  It's  just  that  I  want  the  revue  to  be  all 
right  ...  so  you'll  have  some  money  and  .  .  .  and 
we'll  possibly  be  able  to.  ... 

TOM:  There's  no  possibly  about  it.    I've  told  you. 
We'll  be  married.  .  .  . 
MAGGIE:  When  your  ship  comes  home. 
TOM:  Yes. 

MAGGIE:  I'm  beginning  to  wonder  whether,  some 
where  over  the  horizon,  your  old  ship  hasn't  sunk. 
TOM:  No,  no.    Darling,  you   know  I've  got  this 
journalist  coming  this  morning.  I  don't  think  you'd 
better  be  here,  do  you  ? 
MAGGIE:  Why  not? 
TOM  :  It  might  give  the  wrong  impression. 

430 


BOTH    ENDS    MEET 

MAGGIE:  You  are  ridiculous.  D'you  think  he's  going 
to  suppose  I'm  living  in  your  flat  ? 
TOM:  Well  .  .  .  you  are  an  actress,  and  .  .  .  I'm 
only  thinking  of  your  reputation.    Now,  you  run 
upstairs  to  your  own  little  flat.  .  .  . 

[He  turns  with  her  and  faces  Wilson] 

WILSON:  I'm  so  sorry.  Did  I  give  you  a  fright?  The 

charlady  let  me  in.   She  said.  .  .  . 

TOM:  I'm    so    terribly    sorry.     How    are    you?     I 

hadn't  realised  it  was  so  late.   Would  you  excuse  me 

for  one  minute?    I'll  just  put  these  things  in  the 

kitchen.   You  know  Miss  Ross,  of  course,  Margaret 

Ross.    I'll  be  one  second  and  then  I'll  be  able  to 

answer  any  questions  you  like.   (Going?)  You'll  have 

a  drink,  won't  you  ? 

WILSON  (stunned) :  Oh  ...  er  ...  no  ...  I  don't 

think.  .  .  . 

TOM:  Of  course  you  will.    Maggie,  look  after  the 

Press.  Whiskey,  brandy,  gin.  .  .  . 

WILSON:  Oh,  I  never  touch  them.    (With  a  faint 

smile?)  Too  expensive. 

TOM:  Expense,    what    does    that    matter?     (Gaily.} 

Entertaining!    It  all   comes   off  the  Income  Tax. 

Shan't  be  a  second. 

[He  has  gone.} 

[Mr.  Wilson  gives  Maggie  a  watery  smile, .] 

MAGGIE  (at  drink  table):  What  will  you  have? 
WILSON:  No,   I   really  won't  .  .  .  Not  while  I'm 
.  .  .  working,  so  to  speak. 
MAGGIE:  I  suppose  you  have  to  be  careful. 

[Mr.  Wilson  looks  at  her  enquiringly.] 
431 


ACT    ONS 

I  imagine  people  are  offering  you  drinks  all  day  long  ? 

WILSON  (pulled) :  No,  I  can't  say  they  are. 

MAGGIE:  Really?    Your  colleagues,  all  the  ones  I've 

met.  .  .  . 

WILSON:  You've  had  some  of  my  .  .  .  colleagues  to 

see  you  ? 

MAGGIE  (faintly  surprised) :  Yes. 

WILSON  (be  leans  forward  sympathetically):  I'm  so  sorry. 

MAGGIE:  But  they've  always  been  charming.  ,  .  . 

WILSON  (eagerly):  Well,  that's  what  I  say.    I  mean, 

just  because  we  do  an  unpleasant  job,  it  doesn't 

mean  we're  unpleasant. 

MAGGIE  (pulled) :  Excuse  me,  but  I  don't  think  you 

can  be  what  I  thought  you  were.  Are  you  a  reporter  ? 

WILSON:  No. 

MAGGIE:  I'm    sorry.     Mr.    Davenport's    expecting 

someone  from  a  newspaper.  We  thought  it  was  you. 

(Suddenly.)   Unpleasant?   Did  you  say  your  job  was 

unpleasant  ? 

WILSON  :  Well,  I  mean,  it's  not  nice. 

MAGGIE:  What  is  it? 

WILSON:  Well,  it's  just  that  .  .  .  I've  come  with  one 

of  these  annoying  old  things.   (He  half  shows  the  writ, 

and  replaces  //.) 

MAGGIE:  One  of  what  annoying  old  things  ? 

[He  half  shows  it  again.} 

Is  it  a  bill? 

WILSON:  Not  exactly. 

MAGGIE:  Well,  what  is  it? 

WILSON:  It's  a  ...  you   know  ...  a  stupid   old 

writ. 

MAGGIE:  A  w;/? 

WILSON:  For  silly  old  Income  Tax. 

MAGGIE:  But  he  told  me  he'd  paid  it. 

432 


BOTH    ENDS    MEET 

WILSON:  Well,  I  don't  know  .  .  .  but  there  it  is. 

MAGGIE   (overwhelmed  with   black   misery)-.  Now   it's 

writs  1   We  shall  never  be  married. 

WILSON:  Oh,  now.  .  .  . 

MAGGIE:  Never!  I  can  see  that  quite  clearly.  Never! 

(She  stares  ahead  of  her.) 

\Torn  re-enters.   For  the  benefit  of  the  Press,  he  is  a  little 
over-vivacious '.] 

TOM  :  Well,  here  we  are !  All  merry  and  bright.  Fm 
delighted  to  see  you — always  glad  to  welcome  the 
Press.  (To  Mr.  Wilson.)  You  haven't  got  a  drink. 
That  won't  do.  (Suddenly.)  Do  you  like  champagne  ? 
I've  got  some  wonderful  champagne.  Krug,  1945. 
Very  difficult  to  get.  My  Aunt  Sophie  sent  it  to  me 
last  Christmas.  Poor  old  dear,  she  died  last  week 
in  Switzerland.  Six  bottles  of  Krug,  she  sent  me,  and 
she  wasn't  at  all  well  off.  Just  say  the  word  and  I'll 
go  and  get  a  bottle. 
WILSON  (horrified) :  No ! 

[Tom  stops.] 

You  can't  give  me  champagne. 

TOM  (immensely  cheerful) :  If  we  can't  give  you  cham 
pagne,  who  can  we  give  it  to  ?  (He  has  turned  with  a 
bright  smile  to  Maggie.) 
MAGGIE:  Who  indeed? 

TOM:  You  must  have  something.    Whiskey,  sherry, 
Dubonnet  ?  (About  to  pour.) 

WILSON  (quickly):  No,  no,  I  never  touch  it.    Port's 
the  only  thing  I  ever.  .  .  . 
TOM:  Port.   Fine. 
WILSON:  But  not  now.  .  .  . 

\His  voice  falls  away  despairingly,  as  Tom  pours  a  large 
port.} 

433 


ACT    ONE 

» 

Well,  only  very  small. 

TOM:  Do  sit  down  and  relax  and  be  comfortable. 

Sit  down.   Now,  are  you  quite  comfortable  there? 

You  wouldn't  like  a  cushion  ?    (Goes  and  gets  one.) 

Have  a  cushion.    Make  yourself  at  home.    Relax. 

Put  your  feet  up.    (Sitting.)    Now,  about  the  new 

revue.    Of  course,  it's  only  half  written  .  .  .  I'm 

doing  the  lyrics  and  sketches  ...  I  think  we'll  have 

a  very  good  cast  .  .  .  (laughing)  .  .  .  and  I  must  say, 

if  we've  got  nothing  else,  we  have  got  one  excellent 

idea. 

MAGGIE  :  You're  going  to  need  it. 

TOM:  What? 

MAGGIE  :  May  I  make  a  suggestion  ? 

TOM:  Of  course. 

MAGGIE:  Let  him  do  the  talking. 

[Torn  is  about  to  speak.} 

Just  let  him  get  a  word  in  edgeways. 

WILSON:  It's    the    embarrassment.     (Distressed.)     I 

should   have   spoken  ...  I    shouldn't   have.  .  .  . 

Oh,  I  bate  my  job. 

TOM  (incredulous):  You  hate  your  job?    But  it  must 

be  such  fun.    Always  meeting  new  people.    Going 

into  their  homes. 

WILSON:  I'm  not  a  reporter,  Mr.  Davenport.    I've 

come  with  this. 

TOM:  What  is  it? 

MAGGIE  :  I  wouldn't  be  at  all  surprised  if  it  weren't  a 

writ. 

TOM:  Don't  be  silly,  dear.  (To  Mr.  Wilson.)  What's  it 

about  ? 

WILSON:  Income  Tax. 

TOM:  Income  Tax? 

WILSON:  Yes,  silly  old  Income  Tax.    Ought  to  be 

done  away  with,  I  say. 

434 


BOTH    ENDS    MEET 

TOM  (with  some  grandeur):  But  my  dear  fellow,  you 
can't  come  barging  into  my  home  and  present  me 
with  bills  for  Income  Tax. 
MAGGIE  :  It's  no  use  saying  he  can't.   He's  here. 
WILSON  :  I  really  am  very  sorry,  but  I'm  just  doing  my 
job.  .  .  . 

TOM:  Doing  your  job?   (Pouring  the  port  back  Into  the 
bottle?)  But  what  sort  of  a  job  is  it,  I'd  like  to  know. 
Pushing  your  way  into  .  .  .  into  law-abiding  citi 
zens'  houses.  I  .  .  .  I'm  a  rate-payer. 
MAGGIE:  That's  got  nothing  to  do  with  anything. 
TOM  (turning  on  her}:  I  wish  you'd  be  a  little  more 
helpful. 

MAGGIE  (at  him) :  I  don't  feel  helpful.    You  swore 
that  you'd  paid  your  Income  Tax.  .  .  . 
TOM:  I  have  paid  it.    Perhaps  they  haven't  noticed. 
(Loftily,  to  Mr.  Wilson.}   There's  some  silly  mistake. 
You  take  that  back  to  your  people  and  tell  them 
there's  some  silly  mistake. 
WILSON  :  I'm  afraid  I  can't  do  that.  .  .  . 
MAGGIE:  Why  don't  you  read  it? 
TOM:  I  haven't  got  my  glasses.   Anyway,  what's  the 
point  of  reading  it?   (Looking  for  his  glasses.)   Really, 
I  don't  know  what's  happening  to  this  country. 
(Turning  to  Mr.  Wilson.)   If  I  owe  the  butcher  some 
money,  he  doesn't  come  here  and  wave  his  bill  in 
my  face.    The  milkman,  the  grocer — they  don't  be 
have  like  this.  Well,  really — if  the  butcher,  the  milk 
man  and  the  grocer  can  behave  like  gentlemen,  I 
think  it's  high  time  the  British  Government  learned 
to  do  the  same.   (He  has  found  his  glasses,  puts  them  on, 
and  looks  at  the  paper.   Suddenly:)  It's  a  writ ! 
WILSON  (miserably):  Yes. 

TOM  (in  utter  despair) :  But  .  .  .  but  this  is  the  end  of 
everything.   (He  sits.) 
WILSON   (miserably)'.  It's  not  right,   it   really   isn't. 

435 


ACT    ONE 

I    think   they're    overdoing    all    this    Income    Tax 

business,  I  really  do.  ... 

MAGGIE  :  How  much  is  it  ? 

TOM:  Three  hundred  pounds.  (To  Maggie*}  I  haven't 

got.  .  .  . 

[Maggie  coughs  quickly] 

Surely  .  .  .  surely  they  should  have  warned  me, 
before.  .  .  . 

WILSON:  I  expect  they  wrote  to  your  accountant. 
MAGGIE:  He  rang  up  a  fortnight  ago,  if  you  re 
member.    You  told  me  to  say  you  were  abroad, 
because  you  hadn't.  .  .  . 

TOM  (quickly):  Yes  I  Yes,  but  still.  .  .  .  (He  looks 
at  Mr.  Wilson.)  Well,  what  happens  ? 
WILSON  (eagerly) :  Well,  either  you  settle  up,  and  then 
everyone's  happy  .  .  .  (Getting  no  response.,  he  adds  in 
a  saddened  voice)  ...  or  else  it's  the  proceedings. 
You  know — the  Court,  and  all  that. 
TOM:  The  proceedings  1  The  Court  and  all  that! 
(Incensed?)  Marvellous,  isn't  it  ?  I'm  supposed  to  be 
earning  my  living — writing  a  revue.  (Savagely.) 
Witty  lyrics — screamingly  funny  sketches!  They're 
going  to  be  hilarious.  What  splendid  ideas  I  shall 
have  as  I  jog  along  to  Court  in  the  Black  Maria. 
The  proceedings,  the  Court  and  all  that.  .  .  . 

\The  doorbell  rings.] 

(Quickly)   If  it's  the  reporter,  you'd  better  say  I'm 
out. 

[Maggie  goes,  leaving  the  door  open.] 

(To  Mr.  Wilson — indicating  the  door.)   That  poor  girl! 
436 


BOTH    ENDS    MEET 

We've  been  wanting  to  get  married  for  years — now 
she  finds  herself  linked  to  a  potential  convict. 
WILSON:  Oh,  I  don't  think  there's  any  question  of 
imprisonment.  .  .  . 

[From  outside,  voices  are  beard.} 

MAGGIE:  Clarissa!  Hullo,  darling.  How  well  you're 

looking. 

CLARISSA  :  I've  had  the  most  wonderful  time. 

[J5/  cetera.] 

TOM  (quickly  going  and  shutting  the  door) :  It's  my  niece. 

She's  been  abroad.    Would  you  mind  if  I  said  you 

were  .  .  .  what? 

WILSON:  An  old  Army  friend? 

TOM  :  Very  good  idea. 

WILSON:  If  there's  callers,  I'm  nearly  always  passed 

off  as  an  old  Army  friend. 

TOM  :  Oh,  good.   That  is  kind  of  you.  .  .  . 

\Tbe  door  opens  and  Clarissa  enters^ 

CLARISSA:  Uncle  Tom?    (She  is  delighted  to  see  kim> 
and  flings  her  arms  round  his  neck.}  Darling.  I  am  glad 
to  see  you. 
TOM  :  Did  you  have  a  lovely  time  ? 

[Maggie  has  re-entered.] 

CLARISSA:  Lovely — heavenly  1    Darling,  Cornel    It's 

the  most  beautiful  of  all.   Why  don't  we  go  and  live 

there? 

TOM:  Why  not?  In  the  ruins. 

CLARISSA:  I've  never  had  such  a  holiday.  It  was.  .  .  . 

(She  turns  and  comes  face  to  face  with  Mr.  Wilson?) 

437 


ACT    ONE 

TOM:  Oh,  Clarissa.    This  is  an  old  Army  friend  of 

mine.  Mr.  ...  er  ...  how  stupid.   Til  forget  my 

own  name  next.  .  ,  . 

WILSON:  Wilson. 

TOM:  Wilson,  of  course. 

WILSON:  How  d'you  do? 

CLARISSA   (to   Tom):  Oh,    could   you   lend    me   ten 

shillings  .  .  .  for  the  taxi  ? 

TOM:  Ten  shillings ?  From  Victoria ? 

CLARISSA:  Darling,  just  ten  shillings. 

TOM  (having  looked}:  I  haven't  got  ten  shillings. 

CLARISSA:  Maggie,  could  you.  .  .   ? 

[Maggie  shrugs.} 

(Before  she  can  be  stopped.}   Mr.  Wilson  ?  Would  you 

mind  awfully.  .  .  . 

TOM  (horrified}:  Clarissa!   Really! 

CLARISSA  (surprised}:  But  you  said  he  was  an  old 

friend. 

TOM:  Well,  he  is  an  old  friend,  but  one  doesn't  . 

er  .  .  .  one  doesn't  want  to.  ... 

CLARISSA:  I'll  give  it  back  the  next  time  I  see  him. 

MAGGIE:  You  might  not  see  him  again. 

CLARISSA:  Oh,  isn't  he  staying  in  the  house? 

[Maggie  looks  at  Tow.] 

MAGGIE:  I  really  don't  know. 

WILSON  (who  has  been  searching,  and  has  found  a  ten- 
shzlhng  note.}  Look,  it's  quite  all  right.  You  could 
always  post  it. 

CLARISSA:  Thank  you  so  much,  that  is  kind  of  you. 
Shan't  be  a  second. 
[She  goes.] 

TOM:  I'm  so  sorry, 

438 


BOTH    ENDS    MEET 

WILSON:  Quite  all  right.  Makes  me  feel  a  bit  ...  a 

bit  more  human. 

TOM:  You  really  are  unhappy  in  your  work,  aren't 

you? 

WILSON:  Oh,  I  hate  it. 

MAGGIE:  Tom,  I've  had  an  idea  .  .  .   (she  turns  to 

Mr.  Wilson)  ...  are  you  allowed  to  take  a  cheque? 

WILSON:  Oh  yes. 

MAGGIE  (turning  to  Tom  with  a  bright  smile) :  Well, 

then?  Everything's  all  right. 

[He,  perplexed,  is  about  to  speak.    Maggie's  brightness 
becomes  steely.} 

Everything's  all  right! 

TOM:  Is  it? 

MAGGIE  (to  Tom)\  I'll  write  a  cheque  and  you  can 

sign  it.   Can't  you  ? 

TOM  :  Yes,  I  can. 

WILSON  :  Oh  well !  That's  a  happy  relief  to  one  and 

all. 

TOM:  You  know,  it's  not  your  fault  but  your  people 

are  driving  me  mad.   There  was  a  time  when  I  was 

quite  a  calm,  good-natured  sort  of  person.   I'd  walk 

in  the  Park,  I'd  sniff  the  air  and  feel  well,  I'd  look 

at  the  trees,  I'd  pat  the  poodles.  What  happens  now  ? 

I  sniff  the  air  and  think,  "  What's  the  good  of  feeling 

well?   It  only  means  I'll  live  longer  and  have  more 

tax  to  pay  ".  As  for  the  poodles,  I  just  look  at  them 

and  think,   "  Why  couldn't  I  have  been  born   a 

poodle  ?    Washed,  fed,  petted,  taken  for  walks  ". 

(He  signs  the  chequed) 

MAGGIE:  Never  mind,  perhaps  you'll  come  back  as  a 

poodle. 

TOM:  If  you  think  once  having  gone,  I'm  coming 

back,  you're  out  of  your  mind. 

439 


ACT    ONE 

MAGGIE:  Well,  that's  that. 
[Clarissa  re-en  ters.~\ 

WILSON:  Thank  you  so  much. 
MAGGIE:  And  I  expect  you'd  like  this  back. 
WILSON:  Oh  yes,  the  silly  old  .  .  .  doings. 
MAGGIE:  Yes,  well,  goodbye.   So  sorry  you  have  to 

g°- 

TOM  (going  to  Mr.  Wl/son) :  It  has  been  nice  seeing  you. 

WILSON  (to  Maggie) :  Good-bye.  (To  Clarissa.)  Good 
bye. 

CLARISSA:  Good-bye,  Mr.  Wilson. 
TOM  (escorting  him  to  the  door):  Do  come  again  .  .  . 
(hurriedly)  .  .  .  not  on  business,  of  course. 

[They  go  through  the  door,  talking.] 

CLARISSA:  Oh,   Maggie.    I'm  in  such   a  fever   of 
excitement.  Oh,  and  I  bought  you  these  off  a  barrow. 
(She  picks  up  and  hands  her  a  bunch  of  flowers.) 
MAGGIE:  Clarissa!  .  .  .  They  smell  divine, 

\Torn  re-enters] 

TOM:  Well!   Dear  old  Wilson's  gone. 

CLARISSA:  Is  he  a  dear?   I  thought  he  seemed  a  bit 

shady.      As    if    you    might  .  .  .  find     something 

valuable  missing  after  he'd  gone. 

MAGGIE  (at  Tom)-.  I  can  assure  you  that  Mr.  Wilson 

has  not  gone  off  with  anything  of  the  least  value. 

TOM  (whole-heartedly}'.  No,  indeed.    Maggie,  I'd  like 

to  ask  you.  .  .  . 

MAGGIE  (quickly):  Yes,  of  course,  but  I  must  just.  .  .  . 

(She  bos  unwrapped  the  flowers.)  Oh,  Clarissa.  These  are 

lovely. 

CLARISSA    (dismayed):  Oh!     But    they're    half  dead 

already. 

440 


BOTH    ENDS    MEET 

MAGGIE:  No,  no.  Just  a  little  tired. 
CLARISSA:  I'll  put  them  in  water. 

[Maggie  hands  them  to  Tom  to  hand  to  Clarissa,  who 
hurries  out.} 

TOM  :  Maggie !   What  about  that  cheque  ? 

MAGGIE:  It  was  perfectly  all  right,  except  that  I  put 

next  year's  date. 

[They  smile  at  each  other,  then  laugh.} 

TOM:  Oh,  Maggie.    Maggie,  darling.    (Hugging  her.) 

You  are  the  brightest,  sweetest  little  ...  I  don't 

know  what. 

MAGGIE  :  I  hope  I'm  not  a  bright,  sweet  little  crook. 

TOM:  Of  course  not.  You  made  a  mistake. 

MAGGIE  :  That's  what  I  thought.  Now  we've  got  that 

nasty  writ  out  of  the  house  it'll  give  you  time  to 

think. 

TOM:  Think!    The  first  thought  that  occurs  to  me 

is  that  sooner  or  later,  he'll  be  back. 

MAGGIE:  We'll  just  have  to  fly  to  the  front  window 

and  look,  and  if  it's  him  pretend  you're  out.   We'd 

better  telephone  Jimmy. 

TOM:  Why? 

MAGGIE  :  Well,  he  is  your  solicitor.    (She  goes  to  the 

telephone). 

TOM  :  You  are  sweet  to  take  it  so  calmly. 

MAGGIE  (looking  in  small  telephone  booty :  Well,  what's 

the  use  of.  ... 

TOM:  Yes,  but  that's  what's  so  wonderful  about  you. 

You  don't  fuss  and  fume,  and  make  the  obvious 

remarks  about  it  being  all  my  fault.    (Mimicking.) 

"  Of  course  you  had  a  good  financial  year  four  years 

ago,  dear,  but  you  should  have  saved  at  least  half  of 

it,  so  that  two  years  later  when  you'd  forgotten  you'd 

441 


ACT    ONE 

ever  earned  it,  you  could  give  it  all  back  to  the  dear, 
kind  Government." 

MAGGIE:  Tom.    I  want  to  talk  to  you.    Seriously. 
Don't  let's  think  about  getting  married. 
TOM:  What? 

MAGGIE:  I  mean,  don't  let's  think  about  getting 
married  now.  We  know  we're  going  to  be  married 
one  day.  Why  don't  I  just  frankly  and  openly  move 
in  here  ? 

TOM  (deathly  serious):  Maggie!  This  is  not  the  first 
time  you've  made  this  .  .  .  frankly  unpleasant 
suggestion. 

MAGGIE  (suddenly  going  into  gales  of  laughter):  Oh! 
You  are  silly. 

TOM:  It's  not  silly  to  have  a  moral  sense. 
MAGGIE  (still  laughing) :  Oh,  la-di-da !   You  know  the 
truth  about  you.  You're  a  martyr  to  your  conscience. 
Cromwell,  that's  who  you  are. 
TOM:  All  right,  I  have  a  conscience.    It  is  an  un 
pleasant  suggestion.  I'd  be  appallingly  uncomfortable 
.  .  .  for  you  as  well  as  for  myself.  And  so  would  you 
be. 

MAGGIE:  But  why"?  Nobody  would  mind. 
TOM:  Oh  no.  Nobody  would  mind.  They'd  think  it 
very  gay  and  jolly  and  great  fun.   But  I  love  you. 
MAGGIE:  Well? 

TOM  (inarticulate}:  Well?  Among  other  things,  that 
means  I  respect  you. 

MAGGIE:  And  if  I  moved  in  here,  you'd  secretly 
think  of  me  as  a  loose  woman  ? 

[Tom  makes  a  frustrated  gesture.} 

Oh,  darling,  I  know.  (She  draws  him  to  her:}  You're 
muddled  and  rather  pompous,  but  never  mind. 

[They  kiss.] 

442 


BOTH    ENDS    MEET 

Your  solicitor  seems  to  be  out. 
TOM:  I'm  not  muddled  or  pompous.  Good  heavens ! 
We  know  the  way  this  country's  arranged.  A  couple 
of  married  wage-earners  pay  five  times  more  tax  than 
a  couple  of  unmarried  ones  living  cosily  together. 
But  I'm  already  forced  to  pass  dud  cheques,  forced 
to  ny  to  the  window  to  see  whether  or  not  I  can 
open  my  own  front  door.  I  certainly  do  not  intend 
to  be  forced  into  living  in  sin,  simply  to  diddle  the 
Inland  Revenue. 

MAGGIE  (into  telephone)*.  Hullo?  Is  Mr.  Scott- 
Kennedy  there,  please?  Well,  if  he  comes  in  or 
telephones,  will  you  say  Mr.  Davenport  would  like 
to  speak  to  him?  Thanks  very  much.  (Replacing  the 
receiver  and  turning?)  You  know,  the  last  time  I 
suggested  moving  in  here,  you  had  quite  a  different 
objection.  You  said  Aunt  Sophie  might  get  to  hear 
of  it,  and  think  how  shocked  she'd  be. 
TOM:  So  she  would  have  been.  Terribly  shocked. 
MAGGIE  :  Well,  that  doesn't  apply  any  more,  does  it  ? 
TOM  :  Darling !  When  we  are  married.  .  .  . 
MAGGIE:  When!  D'you  know  something?  The  day 
you  ask  me  to  marry  you,  I  made  a  list  on  a  piece  of 
paper  of  the  wedding  presents  I  wanted.  You  should 
see  that  piece  of  paper  now.  It  isn't  paper  at  all. 
It's  papyrus.  And  half  the  things  on  the  list  have 
gone  off  the  market. 

TOM:  You  will  admit  it'd  be  madness  to  rush  into 
marriage  at  the  moment,  when  I  haven't  a  bean. 
MAGGIE  (thinking) :  D'you  think  Aunt  Sophie  might 
have   left   you   something?    You   said   she   had   a 
lovely  house  in  Paris — a  large  house.  .  .  . 
TOM:  That  was  ages  ago.   She's  been  living  for  years 
in  a  small  hotel  in  Geneva. 
MAGGIE  :  That  suggests  she  was  very  rich. 
TOM  (catching  her  excitement} :  Oh,  Maggie.  Wouldn't 

443 


ACT    ONE 

it  be  wonderful  ?  I  am  her  nearest  relative.   Suppose 

it  were  five  thousand ! 

MAGGIE:  Ten. 

TOM:  Ten  thousand.   Think  what  we  could  do  with 

ten  thousand. 

MAGGIE  (in  a  dream):  You  could  pay  your  Income 

Tax. 

TOM  (in  a  dream) :  We  could  get  married.   (Suddenly.) 

Do  you  know  who's  really  the  reason  we  can't  get 

married  ? 

MAGGIE:  The  Chancellor  of  the  Exchequer? 

TOM:  No.   I  was  looking  it  up  yesterday.   This  may 

surprise  you.    (He  picks  up  a  reference  book.)  Income 

Tax  was  invented  by  William  Pitt. 

MAGGIE:  Dear  old  William. 

TOM  :  Invented  by  William  Pitt  to  pay  for  the  wars 

with  Napoleon. 

MAGGIE  :  Dear  old  Napoleon. 

TOM:  If  we're  still  paying  Income  Tax  because  of 

Napoleon,  we  ought  to  get  cut  rates  on  the  French 

railways.    "  After  Waterloo  Income  Tax  was  done 

away  with  but  it  was  revived  by  Sir  Robert  Peel." 

Dear  old  Sir  Robert,  who  not  only  brought  back 

Income  Tax  but  invented  policemen  to  arrest  you  if 

you  couldn't  pay  it. 

[Clarissa  enters."] 

CLARISSA:  Uncle  Torn!  Maggie  1  I've  got  some  news 
for  you.  While  I  was  away  I  met  the  most  wonderful 
young  man.    I  don't  mean  a  handsome,  glamorous 
Prince  Charming  or  anything  of  that  sort.    Just  as 
well.  After  all,  Fm  not  exactly  Cinderella.  His  name 
is  Edward  Kinnerton,  and  he's  perfect. 
TOM:  Where  did  you  meet  him? 
CLARISSA:  In   Rome.     Then  when  I  went  on   to 

444 


BOTH    ENDS    MEET 

Stockholm,  he  took  a  plane  and  suddenly  appeared 

there. 

TOM  (frowning) :  Chasing  you  around  ?   That  doesn't 

sound  .  .  .  Clarissa!   There  wasn't  anything  ...  I 

mean,  you  haven't.  .  .  . 

MAGGIE  (laughs} :  There  you  are.  Nasty  old  Cromwell 

in  a  black  hat. 

TOM:  I  must  remind  you  that  I'm  not  only  Clarissa's 

uncle,  but  also  her  guardian.  .  .  . 

CLARISSA:  Oh     darling,     you     don't     understand. 

Edward's  everything  one  could  wish.   As  correct  as 

he  can  be.  But  not  too  correct.   He  can  be  very  gay 

and  dashing. 

MAGGIE  :  What  does  he  do  ? 

CLARISSA  :  Something  to  do  with  finance. 

TOM  (quickly) :  Finance  ?  Is  he  a  banker  ? 

CLARISSA:  Well,  no.   He's  ...  we  didn't  go  into  it 

deeply  .  .  .  he's  an  accountant. 

TOM  :  An  accountant ! 

MAGGIE  :  That  is  interesting. 

TOM:  He  sounds  ...  all  right. 

MAGGIE:  He  sounds  .  .  .  very  nice. 

CLARISSA:  Do  be  kind  to  him.  (To  Maggie.}  He  isn't 

staggering  looking — at  least  I  think  he  is  but  I  see 

other  people  mightn't — but  I  do  love  him  and  I  do 

want  to  marry  him.   So  may  I  ? 

TOM  :  Well,  we'll  have  to  see  him  first. 

CLARISSA:  He'll  be  here  any  minute.    He's  got  a 

room  in  Ebury  Street — I  dropped  him  there,  and 

went  in  just  to  have  a  look — that's  why  the  taxi  was 

so  much — and  I  told  him  to  give  me  five  minutes  to 

explain. 

[The  doorbell  rings.] 

This'll  be  him. 

445 


ACT    ONE 

MAGGIE  (quickly.,  trying  to  slop  her):  No,  no.  It  might 

be  Mr.  Wilson. 

CLARISSA  (in  the  doorway) :  Well  ? 

MAGGIE:  Well  .  .  .  Tom  doesn't  want  to  see  Mr. 

Wilson  again. 

CLARISSA:  I'll  look  at  the  legs  through  the  letter-box. 

[Clarissa  has  gone.} 

MAGGIE  (quietly) :  An  accountant. 

TOM:  Mm! 

MAGGIE:  In  the  family!   Not  to  be  sneezed  at. 

TOM:  No,  indeed.  Very  useful. 

[Clarissa  re-enters.} 

CLARISSA:  Uncle  Tom.  Maggie.  (She  calls.} 

[Edward  enters.} 

This  is  Edward. 

TOM:  How  d'you  do? 

MAGGIE:  Hullo. 

EDWARD:  I  hope  I'm  not  a  nuisance,  arriving  like 

this.  It  was  Clarissa's  idea.   I  felt  it  was  a  bit  much. 

TOM:  Not  at  all.   Delighted.   (Indicating  a  chair} 

EDWARD:  I  expect  it's  a  surprise,  about  Clarissa  and 

me..  (He  smiles^  I  hope  it  isn't  a  shock. 

TOM:  No,  of  course  not. 

CLARISSA  (to  Maggie — sniffing):  Something  delicious 

cooking.  .  .  . 

MAGGIE:  Oh,  I'd  forgotten  it.    (To  Edward.)    Will 

you  excuse  me  ? 

EDWARD  :  Oh,  are  you  going  ? 

MAGGIE:  Only  to  the  kitchen. 

TOM:  Maggie  sometimes  comes  down  and  cooks  for 

me.  .  .  . 

MAGGIE:  Sometimes? 

446 


BOTH    ENDS    MEET 

TOM   (quickly):  She   has   a   flat   on   the   first   floor. 

(Definitely.)  A  small  self-contained  flat  —  with  its  own 

front  door. 

EDWARD:  Oh? 

TOM:  We're  engaged.    We're  going  to  be  married. 

EDWARD:  Oh  really?  When? 

TOM  :  Er  ,  .  .  we  haven't  quite  fixed  the  date. 

MAGGIE  (in  the  doorway)  :  We  just  hope  when  we  do  we 

won't  be  too  old  to  get  to  the  church. 

[Maggie  goes.] 

EDWARD:  Well,  I  expect  you'd  like  to  know  some 

thing  about  me. 

TOM:  Oh  .  .  .  no  hurry. 

\The  telephone  rings.} 

Excuse  me.   Hullo?   (With  a  rather  false  laugh.)   Oh, 

hullo!    (To  Edward.)    It's  my  accountant.    (Tom  is  a 

little  flustered?)    Clarissa,  wouldn't  you  like  to  show 

Edward  the  garden? 

CLARISSA  :  What  for  ? 

TOM:  Not/0;"  anything.  I  just  thought  he  might  like 

to  see  the  garden. 

CLARISSA  (to  Edward)  :  There's  not  very  much  of  it, 

but  what  there  is  is  charming. 

[Torn  gives  Edward  a  bright  social  smile  as  he  goes.] 


(into  telephone)-.  I  haven't  what?  (Innocently.)  Oh, 
haven't  I?  Some  oversight.  I'll  see  about  it.  (He 
listens.)  I  know.  Three  hundred.  No,  not  five 
hundred.  Three  hundred.  (Aghast.)  Five  hundred  ? 
On  top  of  the  three  hundred?  Super-tax?  What 
d'you  mean,  super?  Super  what?  Nothing  super's 


447 


ACT    ONE 

happened  to  me  for  the  last  four  years.  Did  I? 
When?  Two  years  ago!  And  that  was  super!  Was 
It  ?  (Infuriated.)  But  you  can't  expect  me  to  remember 
things  that  happened  two  years  ago.  You  know  the 
trouble  with  those  Inland  Revenue  boys  ?  They  live 
too  much  in  the  past.  (Blackly  depressed.)  Oh  yes, 
I've  noted  it.  Thank  you.  Good-bye. 

[As  he  replaces  the  receiver,  "Edward  and  Clarissa  re-enter.] 

EDWARD:  Your  tomatoes  are  doing  well. 
TOM:  I'm  glad  to  hear  something's  doing  well. 
Income  Tax!  Supertax!  What  Fd  like  to  do  to  those 
tax  collectors.  How  I  hate  them!  I'd  like  to  take 
one  of  them  by  the  throat,  and  very,  very  slowly.  .  .  . 
MAGGIE  (re-appearing  in  the  doorway) :  Tom,  could  you 
come  and  have  a  look  at  the  sink  ?  I  think  it's  choked. 
TOM:  Of  course  it's  choked.  The  whole  of  Britain's 
choked  with  rage,  frustration  and  Income  Tax. 
MAGGIE  :  As  you  can  do  nothing  about  the  whole  of 
Britain,  perhaps  you'll  come  into  the  kitchen  and  do 
something  about  the  sink  ? 

TOM:  I'll  be  delighted  to  come  into  the  kitchen — 
where  you  and  I,  my  love — can  put  our  heads  slowly 
but  firmly  into  the  oven. 

\Torn  goes.] 

MAGGIE:  Don't  worry.  It's  an  electric  oven. 

[Maggie  goes.] 

CLARISSA:  You  mustn't  think  this  household's 
always  like  this,  Uncle  Tom's  usually  quite  calm. 
It's  just  that,  any  mention  of  Income  Tax  sends  him 
off  into  a  frenzy. 

448 


BOTH    ENDS    MEET 

EDWARD:  Clarissa,  dear,  I  hope  you'll  understand 
this.  Those  ten  days  in  Rome  and  that  week  in 
Stockholm  were  the  most  wonderful  time  of  my  life. 

[She  puts  her  arms  round  him.} 

So  I  didn't  want  anything  to  spoil  it. 

CLARISSA:  Nothing  did. 

EDWARD:  I  told  you   a   good  deal  about   myself. 

But  now  we're  back.  .  .  .  (He  stops.} 

CLARISSA  (frozen):  You're  going  to  tell  me  you're 

already  married. 

[Edward  laughs.] 

EDWARD  :  Of  course.  With  nine  children. 

CLARISSA:  Oh     darling — my     heart     stopped.      It 

stopped.  I've  gone  ice-cold. 

EDWARD  :  It's  nothing  like  that.  It's  just — about  the 

office.   I  told  you  what  I  do.  .  .  . 

CLARISSA:  Yes,    darling.     You   have    an   office    in 

Westminster,  and  you're  an  accountant,  and  you  have 

a  secretary  called.  .  .  . 

EDWARD  :  I  didn't  say  I  was  an  accountant. 

CLARISSA:  Yes,  you  did.    We'd  had  that  wonderful 

lunch  in  the  Piazza  Navona,  and  I  was  in.  ... 

EDWARD  :  You  were  obviously  in  a  haze  of  Chianti, 

because  I   certainly  said  nothing  about  being  an 

accountant.  I  work  in  an  office  of  the  Commissioners 

of  Inland  Revenue. 

[There  is  a  slight  pause. ~\ 

CLARISSA:  Oh,  glory!  (She  dashes  to  the  door  and 
shuts  //.)  Oh,  darling!  This  is  worse  than  the  nine 
children.  Oh,  heavens!  What  are  we  going  to  do? 
EDWARD:  Look  here!  It's  a  perfectly  respectable 
job.  I  earn  quite  a  good  salary. 

*5  449 


ACT    ONE 

CLARISSA:  Oh,  I  know,  I  know.  But  that's  not  the 
point.  (Distraught.  She  pats  him  as  she  passes.)  Oh 
dear,  oh  dear!  How  are  we  going  to  tell  Uncle  Tom ? 
EDWARD:  Well,  couldn't  we  just  .  .  .  drop  it  in 
casually  ? 

CLARISSA:  Drop   it   in   casually?    You   mean   like 
saying,  Oh,  by  the  way,  I  forgot  to  tell  you,  Edward 
is  the  Public  Executioner. 
EDWARD:  I  did  try  to  tell  you  in  Rome. 
CLARISSA:  Well,  you  weren't  very  explicit. 
EDWARD:  I  suppose  I  really  didn't  mean  to  be. 
CLARISSA  :  Why  not  ? 

EDWARD  (miserably)-.  Well  .  .  .  because  of  spoiling 
everything.  I  do  a  perfectly  good  job  of  work — 
very  interesting  work.  I  got  interested  in  it,  then  I 
became  fascinated,  and  it  wasn't  until  I  was  in  it  up 
to  my  neck  and  doing  pretty  well  that  I  realised  what 
I  represent  to  the  world  at  large.  The  Public  Execu 
tioner. 

CLARISSA:  Oh,  nonsense. 
EDWARD:  You've  just  said  it. 
CLARISSA  :  I  didn't  mean  I  thought  you  were. 
EDWARD:  But  .  .  .  but  people  do.    It's   awful.     I 
.  .  .  I've  seen  people  move  away  from  me  in  bars. 
Fellows  I  was  at  school  with.  They  move  away,  look 
at  me  and  mutter.    Sometimes  I  wake  in  the  night 
and  think,  This  is  terrible.  I'm  a  social  pariah.  .  .  . 
CLARISSA  (laughing) :  Oh,  Edward.  Darling,  don't  be 
silly.   (She  kisses  him.)  Now,  about  Uncle  Tom.   We 
obviously  can't  tell  him  now. 

W3W&&D  (alarmed):  Oh  no!  He'd  throw  me  out  of  the 
place. 

CLARISSA:  You  and  I  will  talk  it  over  later,  and  think 
up  something.  .  .  . 

\Torn  re-enters.] 

450 


BOTH    ENDS    MEET 

TOM  :  Now,  Edward — can  I  give  you  a  drink  ? 

EDWARD:  Thanks.  Could  I  have  a  pink  gin? 

TOM  (at  drink  table) :  Pink  gin.    Fine.    (He  picks  up  a 

bottle?)   So  you're  an  accountant  ? 

EDWARD  (faintly) :  What? 

TOM  (occupied):  Must  be  a  very  interesting  job.    Do 

you  enjoy  it? 

EDWARD:  Er.  .  .  . 

CLARISSA  :  He's  very  fond  of  it. 

TOM:  Good!    (Handing  him  the  drink.)    How  I  envy 

you. 

EDWARD  (with  a  nervous  smile) :    Oh — really  ? 

TOM  :  Thwarting  those  horrible  buff  envelope  boys. 

(Lost  in  a  dream.}    How  I'd  like  to  go  to  an  office 

every  day,  and  spend  all  my  time  thinking  up  new 

ways  of  doing  them  in  the  eye. 

CLARISSA  (quickly):  Well!   Perhaps  I'd  better  go  and 

unpack. 

EDWARD  (eagerly) :  Can  I  help  you  ? 

CLARISSA:  Well.  .  .  . 

[Maggie  re-enters.} 

TOM  :  You'll  be  pleased  to  hear,  Clarissa,  that  Maggie 

thinks  Edward  is  absolutely  gorgeous. 

MAGGIE  (furious) :  I  didn't  say  gorgeous.  (To  Edward.) 

I  simply  said  that  you  looked  very  nice.   Which  you 

do. 

CLARISSA  (to  Maggie) :  I'm  going  to  unpack. 

EDWARD  :  Can  I.  .  .   ? 

CLARISSA:  No,  no.  You  stay.  I  shan't  be  long. 

[Clarissa  goes  quickly.} 

MAGGIE:  Edward,  how  did  you  two  first  meet? 
EDWARD:  In  Rome.    In  the  Forum.  Clarissa  asked 
me  for  a  light. 


ACT    ONE 

TOM:  I  wonder  how  people  became  acquainted  be 
fore  the  invention  of  matches. 
EDWARD  :  Then  she  said  could  I  tell  her  which  was 
the  Temple  of  the  Vestal  Virgins. 
MAGGIE:  Oh,  I  do  see  it  was  all  bound  to  happen. 
TOM:  I'm  delighted  it  has.   So  is  Maggie. 
MAGGIE:  You  know  she's  training  to  be  a  nurse? 
We've  always  been  rather  scared  she  might  marry  a 
doctor.  Not  that  one's  got  anything  against  doctors. 
The  reverse.  But  it's  the  life 

[Edward  is  centre^  with  Tom  and  Maggie  on  each  side  of 
him.] 

TOM:  Well,  there  are  compensations.    (To  Edward.} 

I  should  think  a  doctor  can  make  quite  a  bit  on  the 

side,  wouldn't  you  ? 

EDWARD:  How  d'you  mean? 

MAGGIE:  Asking  for  cash  down,  so  he  doesn't  have 

to  show  it  in  his  returns. 

EDWARD:    Oh,  no. 

TOM  (smiling) :  It  has  been  done,  you  know. 

EDWARD  :  But  doctors  are  men  of  integrity. 

TOM:  Doctors  are  men.    And  men,  even  men  of 

integrity,  are  being  driven  by  impossible  demands  to 

do  dark  deeds. 

MAGGIE:  You  must  know  all  about  that,  in  your  line 

of  business. 

EDWARD:  Well—not  really. 

TOM:  Oh,  now.    You're  just  being  tactful.    We  all 

three  know  that  the  most  honest  of  men.  .  .  .  Well, 

take  me  for  example. 

[Edward  smiles  uncomfortably.] 

No,  I  mean  it.   I've  always  been  completely  honest. 
452 


BOTH    ENDS    MEET 

Declared  every  penny  I've  earned,  and  every  expense 
I've  claimed  has  been  legitimate.  What's  the  result? 
(Lying  back  mth  a  glass  in  his  band?)  I'm  in  the  gutter. 
EDWARD:  Of  course,  I  know  everybody  has  a 
difficult  time.  .  .  . 

TOM:  Difficult?  In  my  profession,  it's  practically 
impossible.  I  can't  say  to  Mr.  Sylvester  .  .  . 
Sylvester's  the  big  boss.  Owns  the  theatres,  puts  on 
the  shows.  ...  I  can't  say,  Well,  Mr.  Sylvester, 
there  are  your  revue  sketches.  Now  perhaps  you'd 
just  like  to  leave  a  little  something  in  cash  on  the 
desk.  I  can't  do  that. 

MAGGIE:  Edward.    I  was  talking  to  Tom  in  the 
kitchen,  and  telling  him  he  ought  to  ask  your  advice. 
EDWARD  (apprehensive)'.  What  about? 
MAGGIE:  Well — how  to  do  it. 
EDWARD:  Do  what? 
MAGGIE:  Cheat. 

[Edward  looks  at  her.] 

Swindle.   You  must  know  all  sorts  of  good,  artful, 

legal  ways  of  getting  out  of  paying.' 

EDWARD:    If  I  may  say  so,  I  don't  see  how  a  swindle 

could  be  legal. 

MAGGIE:  Don't  you?    If  I  were  to  tell  you  a  few 

things  about  Mr.  Sylvester,  that  great  theatre  boss, 

you  might  change  your  mind.   (About  to  continued) 

EDWARD  (quickly)'.  Perhaps  you'd  better  not  tell  me. 

MAGGIE:  Mind  you,  the  theatrical  side's  all  above 

board.  It's  his  other  ventures.  .  .  , 

EDWARD  (again  breaking  in  quickly) :  Whatever  he  does, 

it  can't  be  legal.  There's  the  law,  and  there's  breaking 

the  law.  Don't  you  agree? 

MAGGIE:  No.    Life's  always  on  the  move,  the  law's 

always  rigid.    Nowadays,  trying  to  conform  to  the 

453 


ACT    ONE 

law  is  much  the  same  as  trying  to  walk  about  in 
Tudor  corsets. 

TOM  (after  a  fraction  of  a  pause,  straight  to  Edward): 
Edward,  what  Aoyou  think's  the  best  way  of  getting 
out  of  paying  Income  Tax? 

[There  is  another  slight  pause.} 

Yes,  do  think  about  it  carefully  before  you  answer. 
(Frowning.)  I  have  been  told  something  about 
buying  up  bankrupt  hat-shops,  but  I  don't  know.  .  . 
MAGGIE:  I  do.  You're  not  buying  any  bankrupt 
hat-shops.  A.,  you've  nothing  to  buy  them  with. 
B.,  the  whole  thing  would  go  wrong,  and  I'd  finish 
up  wearing  all  the  bankrupt  hats. 
TOM  (to  Edward):  Just  simple  swindling,  I  suppose, 
isn't  a  good  idea  ? 

[Edward  looks  at  him  and  hurriedly  looks  elsewhere.] 

I  mean,  frankly  altering  figures. 

EDWARD  :  A  very  bad  idea,  I  should  say. 

TOM:  Pity.  Maggie's  very  neat  with  her  fingers. 

MAGGIE   (to  Tom):  You   know,   I   don't   see   why 

Sylvester  shouldn't  pay  you  in  cash.  He's  up  to  every 

trick  in  the  business.  Why  shouldn't  you  benefit? 

TOM:  I  have  asked  him  for  better  terms. 

MAGGIE:  Are  you  going  to  get  them? 

TOM  (uncomfortably} :  He's  thinking  it  over. 

MAGGIE    (angrily):  We    know    what    that    means! 

Really,  it's  monstrous.    (To  Edward.)    There's  that 

man,  Sylvester,  getting  away  with  murder.   Do  you 

know  I've  been  told  he's  got  a  chain  of  fish  and  chip 

shops  all  over  Britain  ?  Oh,  very  carefully  in  another 

name,  of  course.  His  name  and  the  profits  carefully 

concealed.  .  .  . 

EDWARD  (uncomfortable) :  I  don't  think.  .  .  . 

454 


BOTH    ENDS    MEET 

MAGGIE:  For  two  pins  I'd  denounce  him  to  the 

Inland  Revenue,  but  of  course  they'd  never  catch 

him,  he  being  so  smart,  and  they  such  half-wits. 

And  it's  not  only  fish  and  chip  shops.   The  elegant 

Mr.   Sylvester,  who  is   to  be  seen  dining  in  the 

smartest  restaurants,  controls  a  fleet  of  barrow  boys. 

TOM  :  You  don't  know  that. 

MAGGIE:  I  do   know  it.    A  hundred  barrows,   he 

controls,  with  no  cash  records  kept.    How  do  you 

suppose   he   manages    to   have   a   Rolls    Royce,    a 

Bentley,  two  other  cars,  houses  in  London  and  the 

country,  a  villa  in  France.  I  ask  you.  And  I'll  tell  you 

another  thing.    That  secretary  of  his.    The  elderly 

woman  with  grey  hair.    (To  Edward.)    That,  if  you 

please,  is  his  mother, 

EDWARD  (startled):  His  mother? 

MAGGIE:  Every    Friday    she    draws    her   salary    of 

twenty   pounds    a   week — off  the   Income   Tax   it 

comes — every  Saturday  in  she  pops,  closes  the  door 

carefully,  and  hands  back  to  her  darling  boy  twenty 

pounds  in  cash.   Well,  there's  a  thousand  a  year  free 

of  Income  Tax,  to  begin  with. 

EDWARD  :  Oh,  not  as  much  as  that.  .  .  . 

MAGGIE:  Well,  whatever  it  is.  And  you  can  be  sure 

he's    got   a   hundred    other   little    devices    equally 

charming  and  simple. 

TOM  (excited):  But  that's  a  wonderful  idea.    Why 

didn't  you  tell  me  before?    (To  Maggie)    You're 

my  secretary.    I  pay  you  five  hundred  a  year.    (To 

Edward.)  I  give  her  ten  pounds  a  week  and  she  gives 

it  back.  What  could  be  better  than  that? 

EDWARD:  I  ...  I   don't  think  I'm  a  very   good 

person  to  ask. 

TOM:  Well,  you  must  admit  it's  simple? 

EDWARD  :  Not  really.   She'd  have  to  pay  tax  on  that 

five  hundred. 

455 


ACT    ONE 

MAGGIE:  Typical,  to  pay  tax  on  five  hundred  pounds 

I  don't  even  get. 

TOM:    Edward.    (Appealing.}   Come    on.    Give   me 

some  helpful  advice. 

EDWARD:  You  really  want  me  to? 

TOM:  Yes. 

\Torn  and  Maggie  lean  toward  Edward,  in  rapt  attention^ 
EDWARD:  Well,  here  it  is.  Pay  up  and  smile. 
\Torn  and  Maggie  exchange  a  rather  dumbfounded  look.] 

TOM  :  Is  that  the  advice  you  give  your  clients  ? 

EDWARD:  Oh  yes.  Definitely! 

MAGGIE  :  Are  you  doing  well  ? 

EDWARD:  Yes. 

TOM:  Fancy. 

EDWARD  (cheerfully}:  After  all,  it's  in  a  good  cause. 

Putting  the  country  on  its  feet. 

TOM:  My  dear  Edward,  in  the  last  twenty  years  I 

have  put  on  its  feet — possibly  not  the  entire  country 

—but  certainly  the  whole  of  Wiltshire  and  part  of 

Dorset. 

EDWARD:  We  live  in  difficult  financial  times.    And 

we're  not  out  of  the  wood  yet. 

TOM:  Why  come  out?   Personally,  I'd  like  to  stay 

in  it.  ^ 

MAGGIE:  Nice  shady  wood. 

TOM:  Full  of  nice  shady  people.  .  . 

EDWARD:  Oh,  you  don't  mean  that.   On  the  whole, 

people  are  pretty  honest,  you  know.   Of  course,  this 

man  Sylvester,  if  what  you  say  is  true,  he  ought  to 

be  looked  into. 

\CIarissa  re-enters.] 

456 


BOTH    ENDS    MEET 

CLARISSA  (putting  her  arm  through  Edward's) :  I  thought 
we  might  be  married  at  the  church  round  the  corner. 
I'd  have  a  white  wedding  dress  .  .  .  and  two 
pages.  .  .  . 

MAGGIE:  Oh,  I  wouldn't.  Pages  are  always  disaster. 
They  either  stand  on  the  bride's  train,  or  lift  it  so 
high,  the  guests  think  they're  at  the  Folies  Bergeres. 
(Going  to  Tom?)  Tom,  we  won't  have  pages,  will  we  ? 
TOM:  We  won't  even  have  guests. 
MAGGIE:  What? 

TOM:  You    know   perfectly   well   we    couldn't    be 
married  publicly. 
MAGGIE:  What  do  you  mean? 

TOM  (to  ILdward):  Maggie  and  I  are  both  wage- 
earners.  If  we  marry,  our  incomes  are  added  to 
gether  and  we're  taxed  even  higher.  Well,  you  know 
about  that. 

EDWARD:  Yes.   Oh,  yes. 

TOM  :  But  I've  had  an  idea.  (To  Maggie?)  I  was  going 
to  tell  you.  I  ran  into  a  man  I  know  the  other  day — 
he's  now  in  the  Merchant  Navy,  in  a  little  coaling 
ship  that  sails  all  round  Britain.  But  that  isn't  all. 
He's  the  Captain.  The  Captain  of  the  ship.  He  could 
marry  us  without  anyone  knowing.  Now,  here's  my 
idea.  We  embark  at  night  at  Tilbury.  We  sail  for 
Newcastle-on-Tyne.  Somewhere  in  the  North  Sea, 
between  Tilbury  and  Newcastle,  we  are  married. 
Nobody  knows.  You  can  move  in  and  live  here,  and 
though  the  world  may  think  what  it  will,  we  four  will 
secretly  know  we're  a  respectable  married  couple. 
Of  course,  nobody  must  ever  be  told.  If  you're  ever 
questioned,  you  must  swear  the  relationship  is  an 
immoral  one. 

[The  other  three  are  definitely  da^ed.] 
MAGGIE  (suddenly  bursting  out,  with  passion  and  vehemence?) 
457 


ACT    ONE 

Oh,-no!   (She  strides  about  the  room.}  Oh,  no,  no,  no! 
Now  you've  reached  the  peaks  of  madness. 
TOM  :  The  laws  are  mad,  not  me.  To  evade  mad  laws, 
one  must  do  mad  things. 

MAGGIE:  I  am  a  woman.  I  want  to  be  married  in 
church,  wearing  white.  You  say  "  No,"  because  of 
the  laws,  that's  to  be  given  up.  You  are  not  going 
to  wait  in  a  morning  coat  for  me  to  come  down  the 
aisle  in  white  satin.  Nol  In  a  coaling  ship,  some 
where  off  Clacton-on-Sea,  you  and  I  are  to  be  brought 
before  the  Captain  on  stretchers.  .  .  . 
TOM  :  Why  on  stretchers  ? 

MAGGIE:  Because  we're  in  the  North  Sea  and  are 
both,  if  you  remember,  very  poor  sailors.  There,  in 
front  of  the  Captain,  we  two — miserable,  sea-sick, 
and  presumably  covered  in  coal-dust — are  to  be 
united  forever  in  a  furtive  secrecy  unmatched  since 
the  marriage  of  Mary  Queen  of  Scots  and  Lord 
Darnley. 

\Torn  is  about  to  speak.} 

No!  You  can  forget  that.   (With  an  emphatic  gesture^) 

No! 

TOM:  Well,  I  was  only  trying  to.  ... 

\Thefront  doorbell  rings.   Maggie  goes.~\ 

Be  careful!  It  might  be  Mr.  Wilson.  Oh  well,  what 

does  it  matter? 

CLARISSA  :  You've  put  her  in  a  rage. 

TOM   (laughing):  Not  really.   (To  Edward.}     She's   a 

wonderful  person,  Maggie.  But  isn't  it  extraordinary 

how    conservative    women   are    about   weddings? 

What's  the  difference  whether  you're  married  wearing 

orange  blossom  or  a  life-belt? 

458 


BOTH    ENDS    MEET 

[Maggie  has  re-entered,  followed  by  ]immy  Scott-Kennedy.} 

JIMMY:  Hullo,  Tom. 

TOM:  Jimmy!  I  didn't  mean  you  to  come  all  this 
way.  .  .  . 

JIMMY:  It's  all  right.  I  was  in  the  Knightsbridge 
area  anyway.  Fixing  up  a  nice  lucrative  divorce.  I 
telephoned  the  office,  and  they  told  me  you'd 
telephoned. 

TOM:  Mr.  Kinnerton,  a  friend  of  Clarissa's.  Mr. 
Scott-Kennedy. 

JIMMY:  How  d'you  do?  Hullo,  Clarissa,  my  dear. 
MAGGIE  (coming  forward,  to  Torn}-.  Now!    Now  that 
we've  got  off  that  old  coaling  ship.  .  .  . 
JIMMY:  What? 

MAGGIE:  Sit  down,  Jimmy.  I  would  like  to  make  a 
practical  suggestion.  (To  Jimmy.)  This  is  all  to  do 
with  finance,  which  is  the  reason  Tom  wanted  to  see 
you!  (To  Edward.)  Edward,  what's  your  room  in 
Ebury  Street  like? 
EDWARD  :  Well — it's  a  room. 

CLARISSA:  Maggie  means,  is  it  nice.    (To  Maggie.) 
Not  very.  Rather  on  the  dingy  side. 
MAGGIE:  Well,    here's    my   suggestion.     Tom   has 
this  house  on  a  long  lease.  I  have  the  first  floor  flat, 
Clarissa  has  two  rooms  on  the  second.    Now,  un 
fortunately,    Tom's    terrible    old    stick-in-the-mud 
accountant  insisted  on  including  the  modest  rent  I 
pay  as  part  of  Tom's  income.  .  .  . 
EDWARD:  Yes.  Well,  that's  perfectly  correct.  .  .  . 
MAGGIE:  Correct  it  may  be,  perfect  it  is  not. 
JIMMY:  Oh  no,  indeed.  (To  Edward.)  I'm  a  solicitor, 
so  I  do  know  what  I'm  talking  about.    (Relaxing 
with  his  drink.)    The  thing  to  do  nowadays  with  a 
house  like  this  is  to  let  off  every  bit  of  it  you  don't 
want  to  friends.    Friends  who  just  quietly  pay  in 

459 


ACT    ONE 

cash  and  no  questions  asked.   Mary  and  I  have  been 

doing  it  for  years. 

TOM  :  Have  you  ? 

JIMMY:  Oh — years.  It's  all  right  to  talk,  isn't  it  ? 

TOM:  Yes,  of  course.    We're  all  friends.    Edward's 

an  accountant. 

EDWARD:  Er.  .  .  . 

JIMMY  (to  Edward) :  Oh  well  then,  I'm  not  telling  you 

anything  you  don't  know.    Yes,  that's  the  thing  to 

do.   I  mean,  how  d'you  think  we  manage  to  run  a 

Bentley? 

MAGGIE  (to  Edward):  How  much  do  you  pay  for 

your  room? 

EDWARD:  Four  guineas. 

MAGGIE:  Fine!  (To  Tom}.  We  convert  the  attic  floor. 

.  .  .  (To  Edward.)    Edward  gets  a  charming  little 

flat  and  Tom  gets  four  guineas  a  week  free  of  Income 

Tax. 

TOM  :  We're  saved !  Edward,  you'd  better  move  in  at 

once. 

EDWARD:  I'm  afraid  it  wouldn't  be  possible.    It's 

very  kind  of  you,  but  I  think  I'd  better  stay  where  I 

am. 

MAGGIE  (astonished) :  But  you'll  have  a  proper  flat.  A 

nice  one. 

EDWARD:  Yes.   I  really  am  most  grateful,  but  .  .  . 

well,  I  couldn't. 

JIMMY:  Look,  if  it's  the  legal  side  that's  bothering 

you,  do  let  me  assure  you  that's  perfectly  all  right. 

Scott-Kennedy  and  Phillips  are  a  most  upright  and 

old-established  firm  of  solicitors.    We  wouldn't  go 

in  for  anything  in  which — er — in  which  there  was  a 

chance  of 

EDWARD:  Being  found  out? 

JIMMY:  Exactly.   And  I  assure  you,  my  partner,  old 

Phillips,  is  doing  much  better  than  I  am  at  this  letting 

460 


BOTH    ENDS    MEET 

racket.    He's   got  a  huge  house  just  near  here — 
absolutely  packed  with  friends. 
CLARISSA:  Well,  let's  think  about  it. 
TOM  :  But  what's  there  to  think  about  ? 
JIMMY:  Obviously  you  agree  there's  nothing  wrong 
in  diddling  the  tax  people  ? 
EDWARD:  I  don't  agree  at  all.' 
CLARISSA:  Edward,  let's  talk  about  it  later.  .  .  . 
TOM  :  You  mean  you  think  I'm  wrong  in  offering  you 
the  flat? 

EDWARD  :  Since  you  ask.  .  .  . 
CLARISSA:  Edward  I 

EDWARD:  Since  you  ask,  yes  I  do.    You'd  get  into 
most  serious  trouble  if  you  were  found  out. 
JIMMY  :  But  it  couldn't  be  found  out.  I/* by  any  chance 
any  questions  are  asked,  you're  just  a  friend.  But  in 
point  of  fact,  that'll  never  come  up,  because  the  tax 
people  will  never  know,  believe  me. 
EDWARD  :  I  don't  believe  you. 
JIMMY:  I  beg  your  pardon? 
EDWARD  :  I  said,  I  don't  believe  you. 
CLARISSA:  Edward! 

TOM:  Not  very  polite,  Mr.  Kinnerton,  is  he?  I  offer 
him  a  flat,  free  of  Income  Tax.  .  .  . 
JIMMY:    Look   herel     You  say  you  don't   believe 
me.  .  .  . 

EDWARD  :  I  don't. 
CLARISSA:  Let's  go  for  a  walk.  .  .  . 
JIMMY:  You  don't  believe  me,  in  spite  of  the  fact 
that  I've  been  successfully  operating  this  racket  for 
years.  Making  very  nearly  six  hundred  a  year  out  of 
it. 

EDWARD  :  How  much  ? 

JIMMY:  Six  hundred.    And  the  poor  old  Tax  Col 
lector  hasn't  the  least  idea.  Not  a  clue.   (To 
Doesn't  believe  me. 

461 


ACT    ONE 

MAGGIE  (calmly):  I  expect  Edward  thinks  we're 
trying  to  palm  off  something  rather  nasty.  Attic 
doesn't  sound  very  attractive.  But  I  know,  when  you 
see  it.  ... 

EDWARD:  It  isn't  that  at  all.  I'm  sure  it's  very  nice. 
But  I  can't  have  anything  to  do  with  an  illegal 
arrangement. 
TOM  :  Can't  you  ? 
EDWARD:  No. 

TOM:  I  don't  know  about  you,  Clarissa,  but  I'm 
beginning  to  have  grave  doubts  about  Mr.  Kinner- 
ton. 

CLARISSA  (taking  Edward's  arm):  I  have  no  doubts 
whatever. 

EDWARD  (hotly)  i  You  have  grave  doubts  about  me, 
just  because  I  won't  break  the  law?  Well,  let  me  tell 
you.  .  .  . 

TOM:  Let  me  tell  you  I  do  not  like  being  shouted 
at.  ... 

EDWARD  (shouting) :  I  am  not  shouting.  I  am  simply 
trying  to  tell  you.  .  .  . 

TOM  (topping  him) :  Grave  doubts,  is  what  I  said.  You 
want  to  marry  Clarissa.    I  am  her  guardian,  and  I 
want  her  to  marry  a  man  who's  likely  to  get  some 
where.    It  seems  to  me  that  an  accountant,  in  the 
modern  financial  world.  .  .  . 
EDWARD  :  But  I'm  not  an  accountant. 
TOM  (after  a  fraction?  s  pause):  Then  why  did  you  say 
you  were  ? 

CLARISSA:  He  didn't.  I  did.  I  misunderstood. 
TOM  (to  Edward} :  Well,  what  do  you  do  ? 
CLARISSA:  Please  don't  let's  go  into  that  now. 
EDWARD:  I'm    sorry,    but    I'd    rather    get    things 
straight.  .  .  . 
CLARISSA:  No! 

462 


BOTH    ENDS    MEET 

JIMMY:  What's  the  mystery?    Are  you  something 
disreputable  ? 

EDWARD  :  Not  in  the  least.   Quite  the  reverse. 
CLARISSA:  Edward — dear — listen  to  me.  .  .  . 
EDWARD  (very  firmly):  Be  quiet,  Clarissa. 
CLARISSA  (stunned] :  What? 
EDWARD:  Be  quiet. 
MAGGIE:  Charming  1 

[Clarissa  stares  at  him,  gasps  in  dismay,  and  moves  away 
from  him.} 

TOM:  Really!  You  arrive  in  my  house  for  the  first 
time,  you  shout  at  me,  you  insult  my  niece.  I  hope 
this  will  be  a  lesson  to  you,  Clarissa,  to  think  twice 
before  picking  up  strange  young  men  when  you're 
abroad,  because  I  can  assure  you  I'd  think  a  great 
many  times  before  agreeing  to  your  engagement  to 
Mr.  Kinnerton. 
CLARISSA:  That's  unfair. 

TOM  :  I  don't  like  his  manners,  and  I  wish  he  would 
now  go  away. 

[Edward  stands  irresolute  for  a  second,  then  swings  round 
and  is  gone.} 

CLARISSA:  Edward!     (She   moves    towards   the   door.) 

Edward! 

TOM:  I  should  just  let  him  go,  darling.   He's  a  very 

ill-bred  young  man, 

CLARISSA:  He  isn't.    It's  not  his  fault.    You  put 

him  in  a  terrible  position. 

TOM  :  I  put  him  in  a  terrible  position  ?  What  are  you 

talking  about? 

CLARISSA:  Well,  it  was  so  embarrassing  for  him. 

MAGGIE:  What  was? 

CLARISSA  (tearful) :  It's  not  his  fault  I  thought  he  was 

an  accountant. 

463 


ACT    ONE 

MAGGIE:  Nobody  said  it  was,  darling.  But  you  must 

agree.  ... 

CLARISSA:  I  *i?;;V  agree.  It's  .  .  .  it's  his  work.  .  .  . 

TOM  :  Look — perhaps  you  would  explain  ? 

JIMMY:  What  is  his  work? 

TOM  :  What  does  he  do  ? 

CLARISSA  (blowing  her  nose) :  Reworks.  .  .  . 

TOM:  Yes. 

CLARISSA:  In  an  office  ...  of  the  Commissioners 

of  Inland  Revenue. 

\There  is  a  silence.] 

TOM:  What? 

CLARISSA:  The  Commissioners  of  Inland,  Revenue. 

TOM  :  You  mean  he's  one  of  them  ? 

CLARISSA:  Yes. 

[There  is  a  silence.'] 

JIMMY:  I  told  him  about  my  six  hundred  a  year. 

TOM  :  I  tried  to  let  him  a  flat  on  the  side. 

MAGGIE:  I  told  him  about  Sylvester.    The  £sh  and 

chip  shops 

TOM:  The  barrows! 

MAGGIE:  His  mother! 

TOM  (springing  at  Clarissa)-.  You've  got  to  get  him 

back. 

CLARISSA:  Edward? 

TOM:  You've  got  to  get  him  back! 

CLARISSA  (who  has  dashed  to  the  door) :  If  I  do  get  him 

back,  can  I  marry  him  ? 

TOM  :  What  d'you  mean,  can  you  marry  him  ?  You've 

got  to  marry  him. 

[Clarissa  goes,  Tom^  Maggie  and  Jimmy  stare  at  one 
another \  then  collapse  into  their  chairs,  and  remain  staring 
into  space.] 

Curtain 

464 


ACT  TWO 

Scene  i 

The  same  day.   Afternoon. 

'Tom  stands  looking  out  of  the  window.  Maggie  is  sitting 
in  one  chair  and  ]immy  in  another.  They  are  all  deep  in 
thought. 

TOM:  What  time  is  it? 

MAGGIE  :  Nearly  four. 

TOM  (suddenly):  D'you  think  Clarissa's  found  Edward, 

but  he  won't  come  back  ?  Why  should  he  come  back  ? 

We  all  insulted  him.  .  .  . 

MAGGIE  :  You  insulted  him. 

TOM:  Well,  I  didn't  mean  to.  ...  I  was  only  .  .  . 

I  mean,  I  don't  see  why  he  should  take  it  seriously. 

So  foolish,  to  go  through  life  taking  everything  to 

heart. 

MAGGIE  :  You  ordered  him  out  of  the  house.    Did 

you  expect  him  to  treat  that  as  a  merry  prank? 

TOM  :  You  keep  saying,  I  did  this  and  I  did  that. 

MAGGIE:  Well,  you  did. 

TOM  :  I  still  say  that  he's  foolish.  .  .  . 

MAGGIE:  You  know,  you're  going  to  work  yourself 

into  such  a  frenzy  of  nerves  that  the  minute  he 

appears  you'll  start  the  whole  thing  all  over  again 

by  telling  him  he's  a  fool. 

TOM:  The  sun's  shining.    Perhaps  it's  a  sign  from 

above — everything's  going  to  be  all  right. 

MAGGIE  :  You  and  your  signs  from  above. 

TOM  (putting  out  a  cigarette}-.  These  cigarettes  taste 

like  shredded  wheat. 

MAGGIE:  I'm  not  surprised.  You've  smoked  at  least 

forty  since  lunchtime. 

TOM  (intensely  nervous):    You  do   realise,  don't  you, 

465 


ACT    TWO,    SCENE    ONE 

we  still  haven't  worked   out   any  proper  plan  of 

campaign  ? 

MAGGIE:  I'm  going  to  make  some  tea. 

[She  goes.] 

JIMMY:  We  shall  have  to  emigrate.    America,  that's 
the  place. 
TOM:  Is  it? 

JIMMY:  The  land  of  the  free. 
TOM  :  Is  it  ? 

JIMMY:  Well,  isn't  it?  What's  the  first  thing  you  see 
on  arrival  ?  The  Statue  of  Liberty. 
TOM:  Yes.    The  next  thing  you  see  is  Ellis  Island. 
(He  thinks.}    I  might  become  a  Trappist  monk.    A 
friend  of  mine  did  it  very  successfully.    When  his 
creditors  finally  found  him,  somewhere  near  Rouen, 
there  he  was  sitting  at  the  gate,  and  when  they  asked 
him  when  he  was  going  to  pay  up,  he  just  shook  his 
head,  smiled  sweetly  and  put  his  fingers  to  his  lips. 
He'd  taken  a  vow  of  silence.    (He  frowns.)  Jimmy! 
What  are  we  going  to  say  to  him? 
JIMMY  :  Say  to  who  ? 
TOM  :  To  Edward. 

JIMMY:  I'm  still  worrying  about  what  I'm  going  to 
say  to  old  Phillips. 

TOM  :  Old  Phillips  doesn't  matter.  .  .  . 
JIMMY:  Doesn't  matter?    I  told  your  chum  every 
thing  about  old  Phillips — about  his  house— and  the 
friends — I  practically  gave  him  the  address.  And  you 
say  it  doesn't  matter  ? 
TOM:  I  mean  it  doesn't  matter  now. 
JIMMY:  Have  you  ever  seen  old  Phillips?     Silver 
hair — skin  like  parchment — always  wears  a  stock. 
The  most  respectable  old  man  in  the  City. 
TOM  (irritated):  Weil,  as  it  turns  out,  he's  not  all  that 

466 


BOTH    ENDS    MEET 

respectable,  is  he?   A  spell  on  Dartmoor'll  do  him 

good.   Put  some  roses  in  those  parchment  cheeks. 

JIMMY  (hurt)  i  Don't  joke  about  it,  old  chap.   I  keep 

getting  the  most  horrible  picture.  I'm  looking  up  at 

him,  and  he's  there,  very  frail  and  old,  in  the  dock. 

TOM  :  Where  are  you  ?  Lying  on  the  floor  ? 

JIMMY:  What? 

TOM  :  As  you'll  presumably  be  standing  next  to  him 

in  the  dock.  .  .  . 

JIMMY:  Oh,  don't. 

TOM  :  I  don't  see  why  you  should  be  looking  up  at 

him.     I   really   wouldn't  worry   too   much.    He'll 

engage  the  best  counsel  in  Britain.  .  .  . 

JIMMY:  Well,  that's  what's  worrying  me.    The  best 

counsel,  the  only  man  for  the  job,  wouldn't  touch  it. 

TOM  :  Why  not  ? 

JIMMY:  Because  I've  good  reason  to  suppose  he's 

operating  the  same  racket  himself. 

TOM  :  Letting  rooms  ? 

JIMMY:  Yes. 

TOM  :  You  know,  from  a  nation  of  shopkeepers,  we 

seem  to  have  turned  into  a  hive  of  landladies, 

JIMMY  (suddenly):  I'm  sure  I  ought  to  telephone  old 

Phillips  and  warn  him. 

MAGGIE  (who  has  re-entered  with  a  pot  of  tea) :  You'll 

do  nothing  of  the  sort.   Really,  for  sheer  panic  I've 

never  known  anything  like  you  two.    Now!   We 

must,  as  you  said,  make  a  plan  of  campaign.    To 

begin  with,  I  think  we've  let  ourselves  get  flustered 

and  we're  exaggerating  the  things  we  said  in  front  of 

Edward. 

JIMMY:  I  know  I  told  him  about  my  six  hundred  a 

year.  I  think  I  told  him  twice.   Heaven  knows  how 

I'm  going  to  explain  to  Mary  that  life's  really  much 

nicer  without  a  Bentley.    Later  on,  we'd  planned  to 

sell  it  and  send  young  Jimmy  to  Cambridge.  He  was 

467 


ACT    TWO,    SCENE    ONE 

going  to  read  law.  Fat  chance  he'll  have  of  reading 
law  now. 

TOM:  Probably  just  as  well.  You  wouldn't  like  to 
think  of  young  Jimmy  turning  to  Chapter  Five  and 
reading  all  about  Dad. 

MAGGIE:  Tom,  you  can't  have  incriminated  your 
self,  because  after  all,  you've  never  done  anything 
wrong.  .  .  . 

TOM:  I  stated  definitely  that  I  intended  to  do  wrong 
in  the  future. 

JIMMY:  Couldn't  get  you  on  that. 
TOM  :  I  also  asked  him  point-blank  what  he  considered 
to  be  the  best  way  of  getting  out  of  paying  Income 
Tax.  You  can  imagine  what  that's  going  to  do.  I've 
spent  at  least  the  last  ten  years  running  breathlessly 
through  life  with  the  Commissioners  after  me  like  a 
pack  of  wolves.  From  now  on,  I'm  going  to  have 
them  all  around  me.  Snarling  and  baring  their  teeth, 
until  eventually  they  drag  me  to  the  ground  and 
devour  me. 
MAGGIE:  They'd  never  eat  you  raw.  You'd  have  to 

be  done  overnight  in  a  casserole 

TOM:  This  is  no  time  for  gruesome  flights  of  fancy. 
MAGGIE:  Exactly.  So  perhaps  you'd  kindly  return 
to  the  ground. 

TOM  :  I  can't  think  why  you're  so  calm.  You're  in  it 
up  to  your  neck.  It  was  you,  as  I  remember,  who 
asked  his  advice  on  how  to  cheat  or  swindle.  And  it 
was  you  who  told  him  about  Sylvester.  .  .  . 
MAGGIE:  He  probably  didn't  even  take  that  in.  To 
us,  Sylvester  is  the  Universe.  He  runs  our  particular 
world.  But  I  doubt  if  Edward's  ever  heard  of  him. 
Look  at  my  grandmother.  She  still  doesn't  quite 
know  who  Hitler  was. 

TOM:  That  proves  nothing,  except  that  your  grand 
mother's  dotty. 

468 


BOTH    ENDS    MEET 

MAGGIE:  Not  at  all.    She  only  takes  in  essentials, 

and  look  how  right  she's  been  proved. 

TOM:  You  can't  get  out  of  it  like  that.  To  a  tax  man, 

news  of  someone  evading  tax  on  a  monumental 

scale  is  an  essential.    Well,  I  remember—he  said 

something  like,  "if  what  you've  said  is  true,  Sylvester 

ought  to  be  looked  into*'. 

MAGGIE:  So  he  ought.  Terrible  old  crook. 

TOM:  Please  be  a  little  more  careful  what  you  say. 

We're  in  enough  trouble.    We  don't  want  a  libel 

action. 

MAGGIE:  It  drives  me  mad,  the  way  he  gets  away 

with  everything. 

TOM:  You  always  talk  as  if  Sylvester's  a  sort  of  cat 

burglar.    In  point  of  fact,  he  comes  from  quite  a 

good  family. 

MAGGIE:  I  can  see  him  being  born,  with  somebody 

else's  silver  spoons  in  his  mouth. 

TOM:  He's  going  to  be  delighted  when  he  hears  it 

was  us  who  gave  him  away,  isn't  he?  I  don't  see  him 

putting  our  names  up  in  red  neon.  I  see  him  putting 

them  in  scarlet,  at  the  head  of  a  black  list.   (Looking, 

with  horror  •,  into  bis  teacup?)  A  pair  of  handcuffs  ! 

JIMMY:  Where? 

TOM:  In  my  cup. 

\The  telephone 


MAGGIE:  Hullo?   (Into  telephone.")  What?  Yes.   Yes, 

he   is.     (She   swings  round  excitedly.}    Tom!     Long 

distance.   From  Geneva. 

TOM:  Geneva!     (Hip    dashes   towards   her.,    then   stops 

suddenly?) 

MAGGIE:  Aunt    Sophie's    left    you    everything.     I 

told  you  so. 

TOM  (not  moving)  :  Suppose  it's  the  opposite. 

MAGGIE:  What? 

469 


ACT    TWO,    SCENE    ONE 

TOM  :  I  was  her  nearest  relative. 

MAGGIE  (into  telephone) :  Hold  on  a  minute.  (To  Tom.) 

What  are  you  talking  about  ? 

TOM:  Suppose  she's  left  debts?    Suppose  she  left  a 

lot  of  debts  ? 

MAGGIE:  Don't  be  ridiculous!    (She  slams  the  receiver 

into  his  hand.) 

TOM  (distraught) :  It's  just  the  sort  of  thing  that  would 

happen  to  me.  It's  more  than  likely. 

MAGGIE:  Why  should  she  have  left  debts?    Didn't 

she,  only  last  Christmas,  send  you  six  bottles  of 

champagne  ? 

TOM  :  Yes.  Now  she's  probably  died  and  left  me  the 

bill.    (Into  telephone.)    Hullo?    Allo?  fecoute.    Je  ne 

quitte  pas.    (To  Maggie.)  Suppose  I'm  responsible  for 

everything.   How  do  I  know?   I'm  not  going  to 

risk.  .  .  .     (Into    telephone.)    Allo?    Non!    Monsieur 

Davenport  tfest  pas  la.   It  est  parti. 

MAGGIE  (to  Jimmy) :  What  did  he  say? 

JIMMY:  He's  gone  out. 

MAGGIE:  But  I  want  to  know  what  it's  about. 

TOM:  I  don't  want  to  know.    Once  they  get  hold  of 

me.  .  .  . 

JIMMY:  Tell  them  to  get  on  to   the  office,  they  can 

deal  with  it. 

TOM:  Good  idea.    (Into  telephone.)     Ecoute^.    Voule^ 

vous  telephoner — er — numero 

JIMMY:  City  double  one,  double  one. 

TOM:    Cite—Un,     Un,     Un,     Un.  .   .  .   Was?       (To 

Maggie.)     She's    talking    German— {Into    telephone.) 

Haben  sie  gut.   .   .    ?    Oh,  are  you  English — I  beg 

your  pardon.   Will  you  put  this  call  through  to  City 

double  one,  double  one? 

JIMMY:  Ask  for  Mr.  Phillips. 

TOM:  Ask  for  Mr.  Phillips.  Thank  you.  (He  replaces 

the  receiver) 

470 


BOTH    ENDS    MEET 

MAGGIE  (infuriated) :  How  ridiculous ! 
\Torn  and  Maggie  speak  together.] 

I've  never  heard  anything  so  cowardly  and  idiotic. 
There  really  are  times  when  I  think  you're  not  quite 
right  in  the  head.  .  .  .  (etc.) 

TOM  (with  Maggie) :  It  isn't  ridiculous.  If  you'd  just 
stop  and  think  you'd  realise  I'm  right.  Once  they've 
got  hold  of  me.  .  .  .  (etc.) 

\]immy  laughs.] 

TOM  :  What  are  you  laughing  at  ? 

JIMMY:  You  two.  Maggie  thinks  it's  good  news — you 

don't.  In  point  of  fact,  you're  both  wrong. 

TOM:  How  do  you  know? 

JIMMY:  It's   my    business    to    know    these    things. 

Sorry  to  disappoint  you,  Maggie,  but  if  it  were 

anything  important,  Tom  would  have  heard  days 

ago.    (Indicating  the  telephone.)   That  was  probably  to 

tell  you  about  some  small  bequest. 

MAGGIE  :  You  can't  know  that. 

JIMMY:  Pardon  me,  but  I  can.    You'll  find  she's  left 

you — possibly  a  few  books — or  some  linen  ...  or 

perhaps  some  small  piece  of  china.    (Seriously?)    Of 

course  it  is  just  possible  there  may  be  funeral  expenses. 

MAGGIE:  Jimmy,  couldn't  it  possibly  be  something 

exciting  ? 

JIMMY:  I'm  afraid  not. 

MAGGIE  (dashed) :  Oh!   (She  sighs)  Oh  well! 

[The  bell  rings.} 

JIMMY:  I'll  go. 

TOM  :    If  it's  a  man  called  Wilson,  Fm  out. 

471 


ACT    TWO,    SCENE    ONE 

MAGGIE  (musing):  It'd  be  rather  nice  if  she  had  left 

you  some  linen.  Very  useful. 

TOM  :  You  may  be  sure  it's  the  funeral  expenses. 

JIMMY  (offstage) :  Oh  hullo,  my  dear  fellow.  Come  in. 

TOM  (to  Maggie] :  Who  is  it  ? 

EDWARD  (off):  No,  I  won't  come  in,  thank  you. 

TOM  :        "1  T  ,    -o  -,        j , 
hit  s  Edward! 

MAGGIE  I  j 

\They  leap  into  activity.] 

MAGGIE:  Well,  go  on.   Go  and  get  him. 

TOM  (in  a  hoarse  whisper) :  No,  you  go.   Much  better, 

[Maggie  is  irritated  by  Tom  but  decides  there  is  no  time  to 
lose.,  and  goes  to  the  door.] 

MAGGIE:  Edward!  How  lovely.  Do  come  in. 
EDWARD  (off) :  No,  I  won't  do  that. 
MAGGIE  :  But  of  course  you  must. 

[She  disappears,  but  is  heard  off.] 

I  never  heard  of  such  a  thing.   Standing  at  the  front 
door. 

[Jimmy,  who  has  re-appeared  in  the  doorway,  enters] 

JIMMY:  It's  your  chum.   What  are  you  doing? 

TOM:  Looking  at  the  "  Good  Thoughts  "  calendar 

for  guidance. 

JIMMY:  What  does  it  say? 

TOM  (reading)*.  "Pray  to  Heaven  in  the  storm,  but 

keep  on  rowing." 

JIMMY:  Trouble  is,  I  can't  row. 

[Maggie  sweeps  in,  with  Edward.] 
472 


BOTH    ENDS    MEET 

TOM:  Hullo,  Edward. 

[Maggie,  Tom  and  ]immy  are  inclined  to  be  a  Htth  over- 
effusive^ 

MAGGIE  (to  Edward) :  We  were  just  talking  about  you. 

EDWARD:  Really? 

MAGGIE:  Weren't  we,  Tom? 

TOM  (with  a  nervous  laugh) :  Yes. 

MAGGIE  :  Well,  this  is  nice. 

EDWARD  (stiffly) :  I  only  came  to  see  if  Clarissa  was 

here.  I  didn't  mean  to  intrude.  .  .  . 

TOM:  Good  heavens,  you're  not  intruding.    As  far 

as  I'm  concerned,  this  is  your  house.   (He  stops;   he 

thinks >  and  is  embarrassed).  Er  ...  I'm  not  referring 

to  any  of  that  silly  nonsense  about  the  attic  floor,  of 

course. 

MAGGIE:  That  was  just  my  foolish  chatter.    There's 

never  really  been  any  question  of  making  the  attics 

into  a  flat.    As  a  matter  of  fact,  one  couldn't.    Sit 

down  and  have  some  tea. 

TOM  :  Come  along.   Put  your  feet  up.   Relax. 

EDWARD  (who  hasn't  moved) :  Er.  .  .  . 

TOM:  What's  the  matter? 

EDWARD  :  Well,  the  last  time  I  was  here  you  told  me 

to  leave.    Now  you're  asking  me  to  come  in,  put 

my  feet  up  and  relax.  .  .  . 

TOM   (improvising  gaily) :  That's   life,   isn't  it  ?    The 

mood  changes 

MAGGIE:  It's  his  profession,  Edward.  They're  all 
half  mad. 

TOM  (annoyed) :  There's  no  need  to  go  too  far,  Maggie. 
We  don't  want  Edward  going  round  talking  about 
his  half-mad  uncle. 

[Edward  has  come  into  the  room.   Tom  hands  him  the  cup 
473 


ACT    TWO,    SCENE    ONE 

of  tea  which  Maggie  has  poured,  and  Jimmy  holds  out  a 
sugar  basing 

JIMMY:  Sugar? 

TOM  (to  'Edward} :  Have  a  scone.  Maggie  made  them. 

EDWARD:  Real  ones. 

MAGGIE:  I  was  born  in  Edinburgh. 

EDWARD:  Really?  I  had  a  Scots  Nannie. 

MAGGIE:  rOh  how  interesting. 

JIMMY:     \Oh  really? 

EDWARD:  My  first  five  years  were  all  oat  cakes  and 

Old    Testament.     That's    probably   why.  .  .  .  (He 

stops.} 

TOM  :  Why  what  ? 

EDWARD:  Oh,    nothing    really.     Well  .  .  .  Clarissa 

told  me  in  Stockholm  that  I  sometimes  seem  rather 

hide-bound.   A  sort  of  John  Knox. 

JIMMY:  John  Knox? 

TOM  :  Wasn't  _  he   always  .  .  .  (he   looks  at  Maggie] 

.  .  .  denouncing  everyone? 

MAGGIE  (smoothly] :  That's  right. 

TOM  (to  Edward) :  But  I'm  sure  you  don't  go  around 

.  .  .  denouncing  people  ? 

EDWARD:  I  don't  think  so. 

TOM  (relieved) :  Of  course  you  don't. 

EDWARD:  But  then,  one  never  knows  about  oneself, 

does  one? 

JIMMY  (immensely  uncomfortable) :  Look!   I  wanted  to 

have    a    word    with    you,  ...  er  ...  Well,    it's 

really  about  that  ridiculous  over-statement  I  made. 

I  don't  know  whether  you  remember  ? 

EDWARD  :  What  about  ? 

JIMMY:  Well,  I  think  I  said  something  about  making 

three  hundred  a  year  out  of  letting.  .  .  . 

EDWARD  :  Six  hundred. 

JIMMY:  What? 

474 


BOTH    ENDS    MEET 

EDWARD  :  You  said  six  hundred. 

JIMMY:  Oh,  you  .  .  .  do  remember? 

EDWARD:  Yes. 

JIMMY:  Well,  I  just  thought  I  ought  to  explain  what 

a  terrible  old  romancer  I  am.  I  mean,  these  two  know 

me.  Don't  you  ? 

TOM  (to  Edward):  Jimmy  is,  to  put  it  mildly,  the 

bald-faced  liar  of  all  time. 

JIMMY  (eagerly):  Oh,  thank  you,  Tom—thank  you. 

Yes,  I  am.    I  really  am.    You  see,  I  had  an  Italian 

grandfather.    That's  where  I  get  this  tendency  to 

exaggerate.    To  look  at  me,  I  don't  expect  you'd 

think  I  had  Latin  blood,  but  if  you  were  to  meet  me 

in  Rome,  you  wouldn't  know  me. 

MAGGIE  :  As  I  remember,  we  met  you  in  Venice  and 

you  didn't  know  us. 

[Jimmy  frowns  at  her.] 

Was  that  your  Latin  blood  ?  Or  the  fact  that  neither 

of  the  ladies  at  whom  you  were  throwing  flowers 

happened  to  be  your  wife  ? 

JIMMY:  There  you  are!   Throwing  flowers  at  ladies. 

I'd  never  do  that  in  St.  James'  Street. 

TOM:  I  should  hope  not.    What  would  old  Phillips 

say? 

JIMMY  (to  Edward} :  The  point  I'm  trying  to  make  is 

this.    I've  got  this  streak  in  me,  and  I  get  carried 

away  and  tell  the  most  fantastic  stories.  .  .  .  Well, 

Mary  would  tell  you.    Mary's  rny  wife.    You  must 

come  and  dine  with  us  one  night  soon — we've  got  a 

magnificent  French  cook,  and  I  really  have  got  a  good 

cellar.     You'll   love   Mary  and   she'll   adore   you. 

Wonderful  girl,  Mary.   When  she  wants  to,  she  can 

charm  the  birds  from  the  trees.  Twist  you  round  her 

little  finger.  .  .  .  (He  stops  suddenly.)    I  mean,  not 

475 


ACT    TWO,    SCENE    ONE 

that  I  want  her  to  twist  you  round  her  little  finger. 
...  Er.  ...  Why  should  I?  Er.  .  .  . 
MAGGIE  :  Some  more  tea,  Edward  ? 
EDWARD  :  Thank  you. 

\A.s  Edward  goes,  Tom  gives  ]immy  a  warning  look.] 

TOM  :  Do  you  ever  row,  Edward  ? 

EDWARD:  Row?  No,  I  don't. 

TOM  :  Jimmy's  very  fond  of  rowing,  aren't  you  ? 

JIMMY:  Er — yes. 

[Edward  is  occupied  at  the  tea-fable.] 

TOM  (smoothly):  But  do  you   know  something?    I 

think  you  row  too  fast. 

JIMMY  (with  a  glance  at  Edward's  back) :  Oh — really  ? 

TOM:  A    slower,    smoother    stroke    might    achieve 

rather  more,  I  think. 

JIMMY:  I'll  bear  it  in  mind. 

EDWARD  (turning  back) :  Where  do  you  row  ? 

JIMMY:  On  the  Serpentine. 

TOM:  Every  morning  he  goes  skimming  past. 

EDWARD  :    I've  always  wanted  to  learn. 

TOM  :  Get  Jimmy  to  teach  you. 

\]immy  gives  Tom  a  black  look,  and  turns  to  Edward.] 

JIMMY:  Well,  you  see— I— er  ...  to  be  frank,  I 
don't  row  all  that  well.  There  I  go  again.  Exaggerat 
ing.  The  trouble  is — I  want  to  do  something,  my 
imagination  runs  away  with  me,  and  in  five  minutes 
I  think  I've  done  it.  I  mean,  it's  like  my  saying  I 
make  an  income  out  of  letting  part  of  my  house. 

\]immy  laughs  jovially,  butgettingno  response  from  Edward, 
the  laugh  dies  away] 

476 


BOTH    ENDS    MEET 

TOM  (lightly}:  Well,  we're  all  inclined  to  exaggerate. 
Take  Maggie,  for  instance,  saying  all  those  things 
about  Sylvester.    (To  Edward.}  I  don't  suppose  you 
took  in  what  she  said.  .  .  . 
EDWARD  :  Oh,  yes  I  did. 

TOM  (dashed) :  Oh !  But  the  name  Sylvester  wouldn't 
mean  anything  to  you.  ... 

EDWARD:  Oh   yes.     Our   department  handles    Syl 
vester's  assessments. 
TOM:  Oh! 
MAGGIE  (fanning  herself} :  Warm,  isn't  it  ? 

[There  is  a  slight  pause.} 

EDWARD  :  Is  Clarissa  shopping,  or.  ... 

MAGGIE:  No.    She  went  round  to  Ebury  Street  to 

see  if  she  could  find  you. 

EDWARD:  Oh,  I  see.    I  haven't  been  back  there.    I 

went  for  a  walk,  to  think  things  over — and  then  I 

went  straight  to  the  office. 

[There  is  a  pause.] 

MAGGIE  {faintly} :  The  office  ? 

EDWARD:  Yes. 

MAGGIE:  But  .  .  .  Clarissa  said  you  didn't  have  to 

go  back  for  a  couple  of  days. 

EDWARD:  I  don't.  I  just  looked  in  to  see  if  there  was 

any  mail.   And  to  make  a  few  notes. 

[There  is  a  pause.} 

MAGGIE  (faintly):  Notes? 

EDWARD:  Yes. 

MAGGIE    (forcing    a    smile):  A     shopping     list — or 

something  of  that  sort? 

EDWARD:  No.     (Uncomfortably.}     Notes    about    the 

477 


ACT    TWO,    SCENE    ONE 

things  I'd  been  thinking  over  .  .  .  when  I  went  for 
a  walk. 

JIMMY    (apprehensive,    but    smiling):  Some    personal 
problem? 

EDWARD:  In  a  way,  yes. 

TOM  :  Anything  ...  we  three  could  help  you  with  ? 
EDWARD:  Well  .  .  .  it  concerns  you. 
MAGGIE:  Us? 

EDWARD  (bursting  out) :  I'm  in  the  most  awful  fix,  you 
know.    I've  heard  a  lot  of  things  I  shouldn't  have 
heard.    Oh,  I  know  I  should  have  spoken  up,  and 
told  you  about  myself,  but.  .  .  . 
TOM:  My  dear  Edward,  we  absolutely  understand 
why  you  didn't.  Just  forget  it  all  happened. 
JIMMY:  Absolutely. 

MAGGIE:  That's  the  solution,  Edward.   Forget  it  all 
— and  let's  start  again. 
JIMMY:  Of  course. 

MAGGIE  (delighted} :  Now — it's  all  forgotten.  .  .  . 
EDWARD  :  But  it  isn't. 
MAGGIE  (stopping :  What  ? 
EDWARD  :  I  want  to  marry  Clarissa.  .  .  . 
TOM:  But  of  course  you  do.    You  want  to  marry 
Clarissa,  and  she  wants  to  marry  you — we're  de 
lighted. 

MAGGIE:  1  ^  ,.  ,      ,, 
JIMMY:    } Delighted! 

TOM:  And  everything's  forgotten. 
EDWARD:  Oh,  now  wait  a  minute.    (With  a  slight 
smile.,  gently}  I'm  not  an  absolute  ass. 
TOM  :  Of  course  you're  not. 

EDWARD:  I  couldn't  marry  Clarissa  on  condition  I 
forgot  what  I'd  heard.  .  .  . 
MAGGIE:  But  that  was  just  gossip.   Airy  gossip. 
EDWARD:  Then  you  wouldn't  mind  some  investiga 
tion? 

478 


BOTH    ENDS    MEET 

MAGGIE:  No!   (Suddenly flustered?)  What? 
EDWARD:  Sylvester,  for  instance? 
MAGGIE  (ho fly}-.  I  think  it'd  be  most  unfair.    And 
rather  sly.    Just  because  you  overhear  something. 

EDWARD  (worried) :  Yes,  I  know.   That's  what  I  was 

trying  to  puzzle  out,  on  my  walk. 

MAGGIE:  Well,  you'd  better  go  for  another  walk,  and 

puzzle  some  more. 

JIMMY:  "1  ...  _ 

TOM:     jM*gg^ 

EDWARD:  No,   no.     You're  perfectly   right   to   be 

annoyed.    Let  me  say  here  and  now,  I  sympathise 

with  all  your  problems.   I  mean,  the  financial  ones. 

But  you  see,  I'm  like  a  man  being  torn  in  half. 

(Abashed  by  this  statement^  he  looks  at  Maggie}  Clarissa 

says  I'm  neurotic. 

TOM  :  Oh,  are  you  ?  I  am  glad. 

EDWARD:  I  don't  want  to  make  any  trouble  for  any 

of  you,  but  if  I  just  wash  the  whole  thing  out  and 

pretend  to  forget,  I  am  neglecting  my  duty.    (He 

thinks.}  There  is  such  a  thing  as  the  letter  of  the  law. 

(Worried  and  perplexed}   You  know,  for  two  pins  I'd 

give  the  whole  job  up. 

TOM          f  (leaping  on  this} :  Do  you  know,  that  might 

I  be  an  excellent  solution.  . 
JIMMY:     1  Very  good  idea. 
MAGGIE:  [Wonderful. 

EDWARD:  But  then  I  couldn't  marry  Clarissa.    I'd 
be  out  of  work.   And  I  haven't  any  capital. 
TOM:  Capital.  What  a  pretty  word.  I  don't  think  it's 
ever  been  used  in  this  house  before. 
MAGGIE:  Edward,   d'you  know  what  I   think?    I 
think  it's  your  duty  to  forget  anything  you  may  have 
heard. 
EDWARD  :  My  duty  ? 

479 


ACT    TWO,    SCENE    ONE 

MAGGIE:  Definitely.    It's  never  wise  to  follow  the 

letter  of  the  law,  because  the  law,  as  we  know,  is  an 

ass. 

JIMMY:  I  say!   Just  a  minute.  .  .  . 

MAGGIE  (to  ]immj} :  I'll  prove  it  to  you.   If  I  go  out 

and  throw  a  brick  through  a  window,  I've  broken 

the  law. 

EDWARD:  Yes. 

MAGGIE:  I've  broken  a  rule  which  has  been  made  by 

men  of  the  law  ? 

EDWARD:  Yes. 

MAGGIE  (to  Edward} :  This  morning,  if  you  remember, 

Jimmy  arrived  saying  he'd  been  in  Knightsbridge 

arranging  a  nice  lucrative  divorce. 

JIMMY:  Well? 

MAGGIE:  So  you  see,  Edward,  there's  the  situation. 

The  law  will  be  angry  if  you  break  the  rules  it  has 

made  here  on  earth.   But  ...  the  law  will  happily 

accept  a  large  fee  to  assist  at  the  breaking  of  a 

marriage,  which — we  are  told — has  been  made  in 

heaven. 

EDWARD:  Yes, 

MAGGIE  :  Surely,  one's  duty  shouldn't  be  dictated  by 

such  an  earthly  and  dubious  authority  ? 

JIMMY:  Now,  just  a  minute.  .  .  . 

[Tom  pulls  him  quickly  back.} 

TOM  :  Maggie's  absolutely  right.  Admit  it. 
JIMMY:  But  if  I  do,  I'm  calling  myself  a.  .  .  . 
TOM:  Never   mind    what   you're    calling   yourself. 
Pretend  there's  no  one  listening.  That  you  and  I  are 
out  together  rowing — rowing^  Jimmy,  on  the  Serpen 
tine — wouldn't  you  admit  that  the  law  is  an  ass  ? 
JIMMY  (having got  the  ided)\  Oh,j&r.   Absolutely. 
TOM  (to  Edward}:  There  you  are.    Straight  from  the 
ass's  mouth. 

480 


BOTH    ENDS    MEET 

EDWARD  (to  Maggie) :  I  suppose  I  seem  silly  to  have 

worried  about  it  all,  but.  .  .  . 

MAGGIE:  Not  at  all.    You're  a  conscientious  young 

man.   Nothing  wrong  with  that. 

EDWARD:  There    are    arguments    both    ways,    of 

course,  but  I  think  you're  probably  right. 

TOM  (happily) :  Well,  that's  settled.   Now  all  you  have 

to  do  is  tear  up  your  notes. 

EDWARD  :  My  what  ? 

TOM:  You  said  you  made  some  notes.  (Gaily.)  Don't 

want  them  lying  around,  making  unnecessary  trouble. 

EDWARD:  Oh,  yes.   (He  has  put  his  hand  in  his  pocket?) 

Oh! 

TOM:  What? 

EDWARD  :  I  must  have  left  them  on  my  desk. 

JIMMY  (alarmed) :  In  your  office  ? 

EDWARD:  It's  all  right.    They're  in  a  personal  file. 

Nobody  would  look  at  them. 

TOM:  Oh  well,  that's  a  relief. 

JIMMY:  You're  sure  it'll  be  all  right? 

EDWARD  :  Oh  yes,  perfectly. 

MAGGIE:  Well,  I'll  make  us  all  some  fresh  tea. 

[Clarissa  enters.} 

CLARISSA:  There  you  are!  I've  been  sitting  waiting. 

EDWARD:  I'm  sorry.  I  had  no  idea.  .  .  . 
CLARISSA:  Well,  you're  here,  anyway.   That's  some 
thing. 

MAGGIE:  Everything's  cleared  up,  finished  and  for 
gotten,  and  we're  all  the  best  of  friends. 
TOM:  The  best  of  friends. 

CLARISSA  (with  edge):  Oh!  are  we?  (Ignoring  Tom.) 
Edward,  I  have  something  I've  been  wanting  to  ask 
you.  What  did  you  mean  this  morning  when  you 
said,  "Be  quiet." 

16  481 


ACT    TWO,    SCENE    ONE 

EDWARD:  Obviously,    I    was    asking   you    to    stop 

talking. 

CLARISSA  :  Are  you  liable  to  be  addressing  me  in  that 

sort  of  tone  very  much?   Because  if  so,  I  don't  see 

our  future  together  being  very  happy,  do  you  ? 

[Maggie  and  Tom  have  exchanged  a  sharp  look] 

MAGGIE:  Clarissa! 
JIMMY:  She's  tired. 
CLARISSA:  I'm  not  in  the  least  tired. 
TOM  (quickly,  taking  Edward's  arm  and  walking  him 
away) :  Edward,  I  don't  know  what  time  your  office 
closes,  but  d'you  think  it's  wise  to  leave  those  notes 
lying  around?  You  never  know — just  suppose  some 
one  saw  Sylvester's  name.  .  .  . 
CLARISSA  :  What  notes  ? 

TOM  (ignoring  her):  As  you  say  your  office  does  his 
assessments.  .  .  . 

CLARISSA  (at 'Edward) :  D'you  mean  you  actually  made 
notes  about  what  you  heard  here  ? 
EDWARD  (angry) :  Yes,  I  did. 

CLARISSA:  Well,  that's  the  limit !  That's  the  absolute 
limit  I  And  you  expect  me  to  marry  a  man  who.  .  .  . 
EDWARD  :  You  don't  have  to  marry  me  if  you  don't 
want  to. 

JIMMY:  Of  course  she'll  marry  you. 
TOM:  Of  course. 

MAGGIE  (seeing  Clarissa  about  to  speak):  Have  a 
scone  ? 

CLARISSA:  Of  all  the  dirty  tricks.  (To  Edward.}  I 
think  you'd  better  go. 

[She  goes  into  the  garden.} 
EDWARD:  Thanks  very  much! 
[Edward  moves  to  the  door.] 
482 


BOTH    ENDS    MEET 

TOM  (bringing  him  back} :  She  doesn't  mean  it.  She 
really  is  a  very  sweet  girl. 

\Torn  directs  HLdward  into  the  garden .] 
I  could  kill  her. 
\The  telephone  rings.} 

MAGGIE  (answering — distraught}:  Hullo?  (To  Jimtny '.) 
It's  for  you. 

\]immy  goes  to  the  telephone^ 

TOM  :  We  get  the  whole  thing  settled  and  she  has  to 
come  in  and  be  disagreeable.  He'll  be  walking  out  on 
us  again  if  we're  not  careful. 

JIMMY  (into  telephone)'.  What?    What?   (Turning.)   It's 
old  Phillips.   But  ...  but  ...  what? 
TOM  (apprehensive) :  What  is  it  ? 
JIMMY  (into  telephone] :  Are  you  sure  ? 
MAGGIE:  Jimmy — what  is  it? 

JIMMY  :  Before  I  tell  him,  are  you  dead  sure  ?  Posi 
tive. 

TOM  :  Jimmy,  will  you  please  tell  me. 
JIMMY:  It's  your  Aunt  Sophie. 
TOM:  Yes? 

JIMMY  :  She's  left  you  everything. 
TOM  (exasperated}-.  Well,  what  is  everything?    Is  it 
linen,  or  an  old  china  dog? 

JIMMY:  It's  a  hundred  and  twenty  thousand  pounds. 
TOM  (faintly):  What? 

JIMMY:  She   has   left   you   a   hundred  and   twenty 
thousand  pounds. 
TOM  :  You're  sure  ? 
JIMMY:  Yes. 

483 


ACT    TWO,    SCENE    ONE 

TOM:  Quite  sure? 

JIMMY:  The  Geneva  call  was  from  her  solicitors. 

There's  no  doubt  whatever. 

TOM:  Maggie! 

MAGGIE:  Darling! 

TOM:  We're  rich! 

MAGGIE:  We're  rich! 

TOM:  Think  of  a  thousand  pounds,  think  of  it  a 

hundred  and  twenty  times. 

MAGGIE:  I  feel  faint. 

TOM:  So  do  I. 

[Maggie  and  Tom  stand  transfixed,  hand  in  band,  looking 
at  each  other '.] 

JIMMY:  There '11  be  death  duties. 
TOM    (entranced}:  There'll    be   parties.     There'll    be 
magnums  for  Maggie,  and  satin  and  tiaras  to  put  on 
her  head.   Cars  for  Clarissa,  cigars  for  Edward 
and    cheques    for    the    Commissioners    of   Inland 
Revenue.   We  don't  have  to  worry.   We  don't  ever 
have  to  worry  again. 

[Maggie,  who  has  been  getting  more  and  more  tearful, 
suddenly  bursts  into  fears.] 

What's  the  matter? 

MAGGIE:  I  don't  know.    (In  floods  of  tears.)    I  can't 

think  why  I'm  being  so  silly. 

TOM:^  We  can  be  married,  Maggie.    We  can  all  be 

married.    You  can  marry  me,  Edward  can  marry 

Clarissa,  Jimmy  can  marry  Mary.  .  .  . 

JIMMY:  I've  married  her  once.  .  . 

TOM:  Well,  marry  her  again.  (Kneeling  beside  Maggie.) 

Darling,  are  you  all  right? 

MAGGIE:  Yes.  It's  just  that.  .  . 

484 


BOTH    ENDS    MEET 

TOM   (looking  at  his  watch):  Listen!     It's  just  four 

o'clock.  We  can  do  something  we've  always  wanted 

to  do.  Go  on  a  shopping  expedition  to  end  shopping 

expeditions.   (Suddenly?)  Jimmy,  you  are  sure? 

JIMMY:  Positive. 

TOM  :  It  couldn't  be  a  mistake  ?  You  said  we'd  have 

heard. 

.JIMMY:  I  was  wrong.    You,  Tom  Davenport,  have 

been  left  one  hundred  and  twenty  thousand  pounds. 

TOM  (to  Maggie) :  Jimmy  will  drive  us.   You'll  drive 

us,  won't  you?   We  can  buy  anything.    Nothing  is 

barred.   Anyone  can  have  anything  they  want. 

JIMMY  :  Can  I  have  a  new  Bentley  ? 

TOM  :  You  can  have  two. 

CLARISSA  (re-entering  from  the  gardens] :  You  make  me 

want  to  scream. 

[She  goes  straight  to  the  door  and  goes] 

EDWARD  :  And  you  make  me  want  to  scream. 

[T0#z,  Maggie  and  Jimmy  let  out  a  yelL   Edward  gives 
them  one  stunned  look — and  makes  a  hasty  exit.] 

TOM:  I'm  going  to  put  on  a  jacket.    I'll  be  one 
minute.  Jimmy,  start  up  the  car. 

[Jimmy  goes.} 

What  d'you  want  first? 
MAGGIE:  Something  simple. 
TOM:  Mink? 

[She  shakes  her  head.] 

Sables? 

[She  shakes  her  head.} 

485 


ACT    TWO,    SCENE    ONE 

I  know.  We  were  looking  at  it  last  week.  You  said, 
"  What  I  like  about  it  is  that,  in  spite  of  everything, 
it's  simple  ".  In  Bond  Street. 

MAGGIE:  Oh,  darlingl  The  ring!  You  don't  mean 
.  .  .  the  ring? 

TOM  :  "  And  I  said,  If  I  were  rich,  I'd  buy  it  for  you  ". 
MAGGIE:  But  I  couldn't.  I've  got  nothing  to  wear 
with  it. 

TOM:  You  will  have,  darling.  (He  kisses  her  lightly.} 
You  will  have.  Silks,  satins,  laces,  furs,  diamonds, 
emeralds,  sapphires,  rubies,  foie  gras,  caviare, 
champagne.  .  .  . 

MAGGIE:  All  the  simple  things  of  life. 
TOM  (suddenly):  It  can't  be  true,  can  it?   There'll  be 
some  horrible  snag. 
MAGGIE:  Why  should  there  be? 
TOM:  You  know  how  it  is  with  me  and  money. 
There's  bound  to  be  trouble.  There  always  is. 
MAGGIE:  Tom,  darling. 

TOM:  There'll  be  something.  The  telephone  will 
ring.  The  telephone  will  ring  and  there'll  be  some 
thing. 

[There  is  a  slight  pause.'} 

MAGGIE:  There  you  are.   The  telephone  hasn't  rung. 

Let  that  be  a  sign  from  above  that  everything's  going 

to  be  perfect. 

TOM:  Oh,  Maggie,  darling,  you're  right.  Of  course 

you're  right.    Everything's  wonderful,  everything's 

rosy.  Not  the  smallest  cloud  in  the  sky. 

JIMMY  (off) :  Come  on,  you  two. 

TOM  (to  Maggie) :  Forward—to  Bond  Street. 

MAGGIE:  To  Bond  Street. 

\They  go  in  high  spirits.  There  is  a  door  slam.  The 
telephone  begins  to  ring.} 

Curtain. 
486 


BOTH    ENDS    MEET 


Scene  2 

The  same.   About  six-thirty  the  same  evening. 
Clarissa  is  in  'Edward's  arms. 

CLARISSA  (after  a  second^  drawing  away  and  contemplating 
him) :  You  know — you're  not  really  at  all  pompous — 
or  for  that  matter,  reserved. 

\They  smile  at  each  other,  and  he  puts  his  arm  around  her 
again.} 

The  real  person  is  the  gay,  charming  Edward  I  met 
in  Rome.  So  what's  this  strange  creature  that's 
suddenly  appeared  in  London  ? 

EDWARD  :  My  official  self.  You  can  blame  that  on  my 
job. 

CLARISSA:  You  can't  let  a  job  turn  you  into  some 
thing  you're  not.  I'd  give  it  up,  if  I  were  you.   Any 
way,  you  don't  like  it.   You  said  so. 
EDWARD:  Mm! 

[He  kisses  her.] 

I've  had  a  row  with  my  boss.  Murgatroyd. 

CLARISSA:  When? 

EDWARD  :  After  I  left  here.  I  went  back  to  the  office 

— I  found  a  file  missing — the  one  I'd  put  the  notes 

in  about  Sylvester.   I  went  into  Murgatroyd's  office 

about  'something  else  and  there  was  my  private  and 

personal  file  lying  open  on  his  desk.  So  I  spoke  out! 

CLARISSA  (fascinated) :  What  did  you  say? 

EDWARD:  Oh,  that  he  had  no  right  to  snoop  about 

in  my  personal  papers. 

CLARISSA:  D'you  think  he'll  do  anything? 

487 


ACT    TWO,    SCENE    TWO 

EDWARD:  He  can't.     The   things   I'd  jotted   down 
couldn't  mean  anything  unless  you  knew  the  rest  of 
it.   That's  what  annoyed  him.   He  felt  I  knew  some 
thing  I  wasn't  telling  him. 
CLARISSA:  You  won't,  will  you? 
EDWARD  :  Darling,  I've  racked  my  brains,  and  they're 
fairly  simple  brains,  with  rather  cut  and  dried  ideas 
about  right  and  wrong. 
CLARISSA:  That's  all  right. 

EDWARD:  If  I  stayed  on  there,  I'd  have  to  say  some 
thing. 

CLARISSA:  But  you're  not  going  to  stay  on?  Oh, 
Edward,  please  don't.  You  haven't  got  the  tempera 
ment  for  a  job  like  that.  Start  again,  in  something 
you  like. 

EDWARD:  But  what   about  us?    We  want  to   get 
married,  and  I  don't  want  to  have  to  wait  till  I'm 
about  thirty — and  half  unable  to  get  around. 
CLARISSA:  Well,  now  that  Uncle  Tom's  as  rich  as 
Croesus.  .  .  . 

EDWARD:  Oh  no,  none  of  that.  Was  that  him  and 
Maggie  thumping  about  upstairs  ? 
CLARISSA:  Yes.  They  came  back  from  a  wild  bout 
of  shopping  .  .  .  (indicates  piles  of  parcels)  ...  all 
this  .  .  .  (picking  up  a  painting  .  .  .  and  a  Dufy 
.  .  .  and  rushed  upstairs  like  a  couple  of  mad 
children. 

EDWARD    (confidentially]-.  His    generation   is,    rather, 
don't  you  think  ? 
CLARISSA:  Rather  what? 
EDWARD:  Childish. 
CLARISSA  (agreeing) :  Mm ! 
TOM  (of -stage):  Clarissa!   Clarissa! 
CLARISSA:  Here  I  am. 

TOM  (entering)-.  Ah  I  (Brandishing  a  mink  tie.}  Your 
present. 

488 


BOTH    ENDS    MEET 

CLARISSA:  Oh,  Uncle  Tom! 
TOM  (seeing  Edward):  Oh,  hullo!   You're  back. 
CLARISSA  :  Back  for  good. 

TOM  :  Fm  glad  to  hear  that.    (Picking  up  the  painting., 
and  loo  king  for  a  place  to  hang  it.)   Maggie  and  I  had  a 
serious  conversation  about  you,  and  came  to  the 
conclusion  that  you  were  both  rather  childish. 
CLARISSA  (having  looked  at  Edward) :  We'll  try  not  to  be 
in  future.   Darling,  this  is  lovely. 
TOM:  Edward,  we  bought  you  a  suitcase. 
EDWARD  (startled) :  Oh !   How  very  nice. 
TOM:  I  don't  quite  know  why  we  bought  you  a 
suitcase.   Possibly  because  you  keep  going  away  and 
coming  back. 

EDWARD  (overcome):  It's  wonderful. 
TOM:  The  rule  was  that  everyone  had  to  have  some 
thing,  and  it  had  to  be  expensive.  I  have  no  intention 
of  celebrating  in  a  simple  and  austere  manner. 
Flashy  vulgarity  is  to  be  the  keynote  of  the  next  few 
days. 

EDWARD:  This  is  wonderful — it's  got  all  sorts  of 
bottles  and  brushes.    I  shall  have  to  go  and  stay  at 
some  very  grand,  stately  home. 
TOM  :  It  has  a  strong  lock.  You  might  leave  with  the 
fittings  intact.   Maggie! 
MAGGIE  (off-stage):  Just  a  second. 
TOM:  I  practically  had  to  force  things  on  Maggie. 
There  we  were,  in  one  of  the  most  famous  jeweller's 
shops  in  the  world,  and  this  diamond  necklace  was 
too  big  and  that  was  too  clumsy — Maggie! 
MAGGIE   (entering):    Here  I  am.     (She  is  in  evening 
dress.) 

CLARISSA:  Oh!    I  thought  you  were  going  to  be 
from  head  to  foot  in  sequins. 

MAGGIE:  No,  no.    It's  so  silly  to  waste  money  on 
non-essentials.    I  keep  telling  Tom,  we  must  retain 

489 


ACT    TWO,    SCENE    TWO 

our  basic  simplicity.   (As  she  speaks,  she  brings  her  left 

hand  round,,  and  poises  it  lightly  on  her  shoulder.    She  is 

wearing  a  magnificent  diamond  ring?) 

CLARISSA  (gasping) :  Maggie !  Is  that  real  ? 

MAGGIE:  Just  something  Tom  wanted  me  to  have. 

Foolish  boy. 

CLARISSA  :  But  it's — it's  magnificent. 

MAGGIE:  Isn't  it?  And  it's  going  back  tomorrow. 

TOM:  Now,  Maggie.  .  .  . 

MAGGIE:  Tom  dear,  it's   sweet  and   wonderful   of 

you  to  want  me  to  have  it,  but  I  really  couldn't. 

Really.   I  thought  I'd  have  it  just  for  this  evening. 

It's  like  the  tiaras.    (To  Edward  and  Clarissa?)    He 

seriously  wanted  me  to  have  a  tiara. 

TOM  :  Why  not  ? 

MAGGIE:  When  on  earth  would  I  wear  it? 

TOM:  You  looked  wonderful  in  it.  What's  the  matter 

with  looking  wonderful  round  the  home  ? 

MAGGIE  :  In  a  tiara  ?  Doing  the  washing  up  ? 

TOM  :  You  keep  forgetting,  you  won't  have  to  do  the 

washing  up.  There  will  be  servants. 

MAGGIE:  If  you  think  that  means  I  won't  still  have  to 

do  the  washing  up,  you're  very  out  of  touch. 

CLARISSA:  Uncle   Tom,    I've    had   an    idea    about 

Edward. 

EDWARD:  What? 

CLARISSA  (to  Torn]'.  He  wants  to  give  up  his  job.  .  .  . 

EDWARD  :  Well,  now.  .  .  . 

CLARISSA:  He  wants  to,  but  then  of  course  he'll  be 

out  of  work.    (To  Edward.)    You  said  you'd  like  to 

be  an  accountant. 

EDWARD  :  But  that  takes  ages.  .  .  . 

CLARISSA:  But  it  is  what  you'd  really  like.  So  Uncle 

Tom,  would  you  finance  Edward  during  whatever 

period.  .  .  .  ? 

EDWARD  :  I  say,  just  a  minute.  .  .  . 

49° 


BOTH    ENDS    MEET 

TOM:  But  that's  a  wonderful  idea.  Don't  you  agree, 
Maggie?     Eventually    we    would  have    a    financial 
adviser  in  the  family — and  one  who  understands  the 
ins  and  outs  of  those  curious  minds. 
CLARISSA:  Edward? 

EDWARD:  Well,  of  course,  it'd  be  wonderful.  What  I 
really  want. 

TOM:  That's  fine.    Everybody  is  to  have  what  they 
want.  What  else  is  the  use  of  money? 
CLARISSA  :  Had  you  any  idea  Great  Aunt  Sophie  was 
so  rich? 
TOM:  None. 

CLARISSA  :  Did  you  know  her  well  ? 
TOM:  I  only  met  her  once.   In  the  'twenties.   I  was 
still  at  school.  My  father  took  me  to  see  her  in  Paris. 
MAGGIE:  What  was  she  like? 

TOM:  I  remember  her  as  a  magical  sort  of  person. 
Very  beautiful,  very  gentle — she  had  the  most 
graceful  manners.  I  loved  her.  I  didn't  understand 
half  she  said — she  talked  about  Proust — apparently 
she  knew  him  well,  and  there  was  something  about  the 
real  Duchesse  de  Guermantes  having  been  to  tea  the 
day  before — it  all  sounded  too  wonderful  for  words. 
(He  laughs.}  And  she  was  surprising. 
MAGGIE  :  In  what  way  ? 

TOM:  She  suddenly  turned  to  me  and  said,  "  Tell  me, 
Tom.   What  is  your  opinion  of  love?" 
MAGGIE  :  How  old  were  you  ? 
TOM:  Seventeen. 

MAGGIE  :  What  did  you  say  ?  Or  don't  you  remember? 
TOM  :  I  remember  exactly,  I  said, "  I  think  if  we  com 
pletely  understood  the  nature  of  love  we  would 
understand  the  whole  Universe." 
MAGGIE:  At  seventeen? 
TOM:  I  was  very  serious.  And  in  love. 
MAGGIE:  Who  with? 

49  * 


ACT    TWO,    SCENE    TWO 

TOM  :  My  housemaster's  wife. 

MAGGIE:  Tom!    Are  we  in  the  presence   of  Old 

Woodley? 

[The  door  bell  rings.} 

CLARISSA:  I'll  go. 

EDWARD  :  It's  wonderfully  generous  of  you  to  offer 

to  finance  me.   I  don't  know  what  I  can  ever  do  to 

repay  you. 

TOM:  You  can  reveal  all  your  office  secrets. 

EDWARD  :  I'd  better  be  going.  I'm  taking  Clarissa  to 

dinner. 

[Conversation  heard  off.} 

MAGGIE:  Who  is  it? 
TOM:  I  don't  know. 

[Clarissa  re-enters.} 

CLARISSA:  Sir  George  Treherne. 

[Sir  Gearge  enters?^ 

SIR  GEORGE:  Good  evening.   I  hope  you'll  forgive 

this  intrusion.  You  are  Mr.  Davenport? 

TOM:  Yes. 

SIR   GEORGE:  I   am  an   old   friend   of  your  Aunt 

Sophie. 

TOM  :  Oh,  how  very  nice. 

SIR  GEORGE:  I'm  only  in  London  for  a  few  days,  so  I 

took  the  liberty  of  calling  on  you. 

TOM:  I'm  delighted  you  did.   This  is  Miss  Ross. 

MAGGIE:  How  d'you  do? 

TOM:  Mr.  Kinnerton. 

49* 


BOTH    ENDS    MEET 

SIR  GEORGE  (to  Edward) :  I  hope  I'm  not  driving  you 

away. 

EDWARD  :    No,  no.  We  were  on  our  way. 

[Edward  goes.] 

CLARISSA:  Will  you  excuse  me,  Sir  George? 
TOM  :  Won't  you  sit  down,  Sir  George  ? 
CLARISSA  (in  the  hall):  Edward,  would  you  get  a 
taxi.  .  .  ?  I  shan't  be  a  moment. 

[Clarissa  goes  upstairs.] 

TOM  (closing  the  door):  Will  you  have  a  drink.  Sir 

George?     There's    some    champagne.     It    was    a 

present  from  Aunt  Sophie. 

SIR  GEORGE  :  Oh !  From  Sophie.  How  fascinating. 

TOM  :  We'll  drink  to  Aunt  Sophie. 

SIR  GEORGE:  Yes,  indeed.   To  dear  Sophie.   Radiant 

— unforgettable 

TOM:  And     so     magnificently     and     wonderfully 

generous. 

SIR  GEORGE  :  Dear  Sophie.  I  was  greatly  saddened  to 

hear  the  news.  I  had  occasion  to  telephone  Geneva.  I 

spoke  to  her  solicitors — what's  their  name? 

TOM  :  I'm  afraid  I  don't  know. 

SIR  GEORGE  :  Oh.   They  haven't  been  in  touch  with 

you? 

TOM:  Not  personally. 

SIR  GEORGE:  Oh.    Then  you  don't  know  the  terms 

of  the  will.   I  telephoned  you  earlier.  .  .  . 

TOM:  Is  there  some  trouble? 

SIR  GEORGE:  Oh  no.    No.    Good  heavens,  no.   It's 

just  that   dear   Sophie  has  been  kind   enough  to 

mention  me.    How  does  she  put  it?    "I  trust  my 

nephew  will   give  to    my  old    friend   Sir  George 

495 


ACT   TWO,    SCENE    TWO 

Treherne  some  remembrance  of  young,  happy  days.*' 
TOM  (relieved):  Well,  of  course!  I'll  be  only  too 
pleased. 

MAGGIE:  Tom  will  find  you  something  personal  of 
hers.   Some  books.  .  .  . 
TOM  :  Or  a  piece  of  china. 

SIR  GEORGE:  I  don't  think  that's  quite  what  she 
meant. 

TOM:  Well,  you  must  tell  us  quite  frankly  exactly 
what  you  would  like. 

SIR  GEORGE  :  Oh,  how  kind  of  you.  (He  gives  Tom  a 
sharp  look.)  I  have  come  here  on  a  delicate  mission. 
MAGGIE  :  Delicate  mission  ? 

SIR  GEORGE:  Delicate  mission,  that's  what  we  used 
to  call  it.  I  was  in  the  Diplomatic  Service — attache 
in  Paris  and  so  on — that's  where  I  first  met  Sophie. 
She  was  living  in  the  most  unpleasant  little  flat.  .  .  . 
Shortly  afterwards  she  moved  to  a  delightful  house 
just  off  the  Champs  Elysees. 

TOM:  What  happened  between  the  unpleasant  flat 
and  the  delightful  house  ? 

SIR  GEORGE  :  Sophie  and  I  met  on  the  stairs  of  the 
Embassy,  at  a  reception. 
TOM:  Yes? 

SIR  GEORGE:  That's  all. 

TOM  (smiling) :  It  hardly  explains  the  move,  does  it  ? 
One's  fortunes  don't  change,  just  because  jSu  meet 
someone  on  a  staircase. 
SIR  GEORGE  :  Depends  who  you  meet. 
TOM:  I  beg  your  pardon? 

SIR  GEORGE  :  I  was  an  extremely  wealthy  young  man. 
TOM:  Are  you  telling  me  that  Aunt  Sophie  met  you 
on  a  staircase  and  because  you  were  a  wealthy  young 
man.  .  .  ? 

SIR  GEORGE:  No,  no.  We  fell  instantly  and  com 
pletely  head  over  heels  in  love. 

494 


BOTH    ENDS    MEET 

TOM:  And  you  set  her  up  in  the  delightful  house? 

SIR  GEORGE:  Naturally. 

TOM:  The  whole  thing  was  done  openly. 

SIR  GEORGE:  The  whole  thing  was  done  quietly.    I 

was  in  the  Diplomatic. 

TOM:  I  presume  your  delicate  mission  is  to  tell  me 

that  the  hundred  and  twenty  thousand  really  belongs 

to  you  ? 

SIR  GEORGE  :  Good  heavens,  no. 

MAGGIE:  Well,  that's  a  relief! 

SIR  GEORGE:  I  wish  it  did.    No,  I  only  once  gave 

Sophie  ...  a  little  something.  I  can't  conceal  from 

you  that  it  would  be  nice  if — it's  a  delicate  matter — if 

you  could  see  your  way — how  shall  I  put  it.  .  .   ? 

TOM  :  To  return  the  little  something. 

[Sir  George  closes  his  eyes.,  and  bows  slightly,} 

TOM  :  How  much  was  it  ? 

SIR  GEORGE:  Ten  thousand  pounds. 

[Clarissa  opens  the  door.} 

CLARISSA:  Well,  darlings.  Have  a  jolly  evening. 

TOM:  What? 

CLARISSA  (taking  her  handbag):  I  said,  have  a  jolly 

evening. 

TOM:  Yes,  dear! 

CLARISSA  :  Don't  spend  all  your  money. 

TOM:  No  dear! 

[Clarissa  exits.} 

I  don't  understand.  If  you  only  gave  Aunt  Sophie 
ten  thousand,  where  did  the  other  hundred  and  ten 
come  from  ? 

495 


ACT    ONE,    SCENE    TWO 

SIR  GEORGE:  Well,  I  think  it's  plain  that  she  did 

invest  her  money  wisely.    She  had  a  great  friend  on 

the  Paris  Bourse,  another  who  was  a  banker,  another 

in  the  champagne  business.  They  would  have  given 

her  excellent  advice. 

TOM:  Nothing  more? 

SIR  GEORGE:  Mm? 

TOM:  No  more  ten  thousands? 

SIR  GEORGE  :  Good  heavens,  no !  I  was  the  only  man 

your  aunt  ever  cared  tuppence  for. 

[Clarissa  re-enters.} 

CLARISSA:  Another   old  friend   of  Aunt   Sophie's. 
Lord  Minster. 

[Lord  Minster  enters.} 

LORD  MINSTER:  I  do  hope  I'm  not  intruding,  but  I 

felt  as  I  was  dining  nearby  I  must  look  in  for  one 

second  and  say.  .  .  .  (Sees  Sir  George.}  George ! 

SIR  GEORGE:  Dickie. 

LORD  MINSTER:  I  had  no  idea  you  were  in  London. 

What  a  very  pleasant  surprise.  Of  course,  you  would 

be  here,  wouldn't  you  ?  Such  sad  news  about  Sophie. 

(To  Tom.}    We  all  knew  one  another  in  Paris,  at 

the  Embassy.   Good  old  George.  A  few  years  older, 

but  still  able  to  get  about,  eh? 

SIR  GEORGE  (irritably} :  Really,  Dickie.  That  juvenile 

manner  ill  becomes  a  man  well  over  sixty. 

LORD  MINSTER:  I'm  sorry,  George,  but  I  just  grow 

younger  every  year. 

SIR  GEORGE:  You're  going  to  be  most  embarrassing 

at  eighty. 

LORD   MINSTER:  As   grumpy  as   ever.     You   must 

496 


BOTH    ENDS    MEET 

come  and  dine — I'm  on  my  way  to-  Vickie  Hol 
lander's.  .  .  . 

SIR  GEORGE:  Oh  lord.  Are  you  going  there  too? 
LORD  MINSTER:  Oh,  good.  I'll  give  you  a  lift. .  I've 
got  the  car  outside.  Just  felt  I  had  to  stop  and  say 
how  d'you  do  to  Sophie's  nephew.  (To  Tom.)  I 
say,  I  had  no  idea  she  had  so  much  money.  Where 
did  she  get  it  ? 

TOM  :  Early  in  life,  she  made  a  very  good  investment. 
LORD  MINSTER  :  On  the  Market  ? 
TOM:  On  a  staircase. 

SIR  GEORGE:  Dickie,  you  go  along.  I'll  follow. 
LORD  MINSTER:  No,  no.  I'll  take  you. 
SIR  GEORGE  (irritably) :  But  I  don't  want  to  be  taken. 
LORD  MINSTER  (laughing) :  You  can  be  tetchy,  but  not 
half  as  tetchy  as  Vickie  will  be  if  we're  a  minute  late. 
Now,  come  along. 

SIR  GEORGE  (to  Tom) :  I  shall  have  to  telephone  you 
in  the  morning.  Perhaps  in  the  meantime  you  will 
give  the  matter  some  thought?  I  wish  you  a  very 
good  evening.  Come  along,  Dickie. 

[Sir  George  goes.] 

LORD  MINSTER  (to  Torn)'.  So  very  nice  to  have  met 

you.    Do  forgive  my  arriving  unannounced,  but  I 

read  the  news  in  the  evening  papers,  and  there  was 

your  address — (Looks  quickly  over  bis  shoulder  towards 

the  door.)  Wonder  if  I  could  see  you  tomorrow  ?  I 

didn't  expect  to  find  him  here.   It's  just  a    .  .  very 

small  financial  matter.    A  little  gift  I  once  made 

Sophie. 

TOM  (stonily) :  How  much  ? 

LORD  MINSTER:  Five  thousand. 

SIR    GEORGE    (re-appearing    in    the    doorway):  Well, 

really  1  You  bustle  me  out  of  the  place.  .  .  . 

497 


ACT   TWO,    SCENE    TWO 

LORD  MINSTER:  Just  coming,  my  dear  fellow. 

\Going,  as.  Sir  George  again  disappears^ 

(He  turns  and  whispers?)  Tomorrow  morning. 

[Lord  Minster  exits.} 

[Tow  and  Maggie  look  at  one  another^ 

TOM:  Ten  thousand.    Five  thousand.    (He  shrugs?) 

Presumably  she  met  Lord  Minster  during  the  sales. 

MAGGIE:   Now,  Tom,  whatever  happens,  don't  let  it 

worry  you. 

TOM:  Worry  me?    Fifteen   thousand  gone  in   ten 

minutes.  And  what  about  the  rest?  All  the  other 

gentlemen  ? 

MAGGIE:  We  don't  know  there  were  any  others., 

TOM  :  A  hundred  and  five  thousand  left.  That  could 

mean  at  least  another  twenty  applicants  on  their  way. 

MAGGIE:  Sir  George  said  he  was  the  only  man  in  her 

life.  .  .  . 

TOM  :  He  said,  the  only  man  she  cared  tuppence  for. 

There  are  a  lot  of  tuppences  in  a  hundred  and  twenty 

thousand.   A  friend  on  the  Bourse,  another  who  was 

a  banker — another  in  the  champagne  business.   And 

that's  only  Paris.  There  are  plenty  more  cities  in 

Europe,  and  Aunt  Sophie  was  a  great  traveller. 

MAGGIE:  Tom  I  You  must  keep  calm.  .  .  . 

TOM:  Calm?  How  can  I  keep  calm?  D'you  think  it's 

nice  to  be  told  your  gracious,  charming  aunt  was  in 

point  of  fact  a  sort  of  old  Madame  Zaza? 

[Tow  puts  out  his  band  and  Maggie  comes  to  him.] 
498 


BOTH    ENDS    MEET 

I  said  there'd  be  trouble,  but  I  didn't  imagine  any 
thing  like  this. 

MAGGIE:  Well,  it's  not  all  that  bad.  Obviously,  with 
all  that  money,  there  was  bound  to  be  some  bother. 
What  does  it  matter?    We're  together,  and  we'll 
fight  the  lot  of  them. 
TOM:  What  a  shame — about  your  ring. 
MAGGIE:  What? 

TOM:  How  right  you  were,  about  just  having  it  for 
this  evening. 

MAGGIE  :  If  you  think  I  meant  that  seriously,  you're 
very  much  mistaken. 
TOM:  But  you  said.  .  .  . 

MAGGIE  :  This  is  my  engagement  ring.  I've  waited  a 
long  time  for  it,  and  I  intend  to  keep  it. 
TOM  :  But  until  I  know.  .  .  . 

MAGGIE:  I  don't  care  how  many  of  Aunt  Sophie's 
admirers  turn  up.  I  don't  care  if  they're  taking  off 
from  all  parts  of  the  globe — planes  full  of  elderly 
gentlemen.  They're  not  going  to  have  my  engage 
ment  ring. 

[Door  bell  rings.} 

TOM:  There's  another. 
MAGGIE:  It  might  be  Clarissa. 
TOM:  She  has  a  key. 

\Tbe  door  bell  rings.} 

MAGGIE:  Could  it  be  Jimmy? 
TOM:  Dining  in  Hampstead. 

\The  door  bell  rings.} 

It's  another,  all  right. 

499 


BOTH    ENDS    MEET 

MAGGIE:  Don't  answer. 

TOM:  What? 

MAGGIE  :  Just  don't  answer. 

TOM:  That's  cowardly. 

MAGGIE:  Yes. 

TOM:  Right. 

\Torn  sits  beside  Maggie.  Door  bell  rings.} 

(Suddenly.)    D'you  know  something?    Aunt  Sophie 
lived  for  two  years  in  Russia. 

[Tbe  door  bell  rings} 

Curtain 


500 


ACT    THREE 


The  same>  the  following  morning. 

Maggie  is  pouring  out  coffee.    Tom  enters,  putting  on  his 
jacket. 

JIMMY:  D'you  always  get  up  this  late? 

TOM:  The  daily  woman  normally  wakes  me.    She 

hasn't  arrived — as  usual. 

JIMMY  :  Buy  an  alarm  clock. 

TOM:  What  with? 

[Maggie  gives  him  a  sharp  look.] 

JIMMY  :  Your  fortune,  dear  fellow,  your  fortune.  You 

forget  .  .  .    (picking    up    a    newspaper   and   reading) 

".  .  .  when  we  telephoned  Mr.  Tom  Davenport,  he 

said  he  was  astonished  and  delighted.  ..." 

TOM:  Oh — stop. 

JIMMY  :  And  there's  a  photograph  of  you.  .  .  . 

MAGGIE:  Let  me  see. 

JIMMY:  They  must  have  taken  it  out  of  a  very  old 

passport. 

MAGGIE  (looking :  If  you  had  that  in  a  passport,  you'd 

never  get  out  of  the  country. 

TOM  (looking) :  It  was  taken  twenty  years  ago. 

JIMMY:  What's  that  on  top  of  your  head? 

TOM:  Hair. 

JIMMY:  For  somebody  whose  life  is  going  to  be  a 

bed  of  roses,  you  don't  seem  very  jovial  this  morning. 

TOM:  I  couldn't  sleep.  I  kept  thinking,  going  round 

in  circles,  and  always  coming  back  to   the  same 

conclusion. 

[Maggie,  who  is  inspecting  the  "  Good  Thoughts  "  calendar, 
again  looks  at  him  sharply  >  and  he  catches  her  eye.] 

501 


ACT    THREE 

What's  the  thought  for  today  ? 

MAGGIE:  "  Experience  always  comes  in  useful." 

TOM  :  Who  said  that  ?  Aunt  Sophie  ? 

JIMMY  (offering  a  gold  case)-.  Tom,  this  really  was  a 

wonderful  present.   I  don't  know  how  to  thank  you. 

TOM:  Lovely,  isn't  it?   Pity  it'll  have  to  go  back. 

[Jimmy  drops  the  case.  Maggie  puts  down  the  coffee  pot 
abruptly.'] 

JIMMY  {picking  tip  the  case) :  What  ? 

TOM  :  It'll  have  to  go  back.  I  don't  think  I  can  accept 

Aunt  Sophie's  legacy. 

[Jimmy  is  dumbfounded.} 

MAGGIE:  So  that's  the  conclusion  to  which  you  kept 
coming  back?  I  thought  so. 
JIMMY:  What  on  earth  are  you  talking  about? 
TOM:  It's  not  easy  to  explain.  .  .  . 
MAGGIE:  It's  perfectly  easy.   Tom,  having  the  moral 
outlook  of  a  Victorian  father,  disapproves  of  the 
source  or  sources  of  Aunt  Sophie's  money.  (To  Tom.} 
I  think  I've  expressed  the  situation  in  a  nutshell  ? 
TOM  :  Life's  much  too  complicated  to  express  in  over 
simplified  phrases.    What,  after  all,  can  be  put  in  a 
nutshell  ? 
MAGGIE:  Nuts. 

TOM:  I  don't  disapprove.  .  .  . 

MAGGIE:  Oh  yes,  you  do.    You  built  up  a  senti 
mental  picture  of  a  gracious  woman,  sitting  around 
in  her  salon  like  a  sort  of  Whistler's  Aunt,  with  her 
silver,  her  porcelain,  her  objets  de  vertu.  .  .  . 
TOM:  Objets  de  easy  vertu. 

MAGGIE:  .  .  .  and  you're  furious  to  find  that  far 
from  being  anything  like  your  picture,  Aunt  Sophie 
was  in  fact  infinitely  more  interesting  and  exciting. 

502 


BOTH    ENDS    MEET 

TOM:  I  don't  criticise  her  or  the  source  of  her  money. 
One  would  expect  a  lady  who  was  no  better  than  she 
should  be,  to  die  better  off  than  most.   I  merely  say 
I  cannot  spend  the  rest  of  my  life  living  on  the  pro 
ceeds  of  hers. 
JIMMY:  Why  not? 
TOM  :  Would  you  ? 
JIMMY:  Like  a  shot. 

MAGGIE:  And  what  about   Sir   George  and  Lord 
Minster?  Have  you  given  them  a  thought? 
TOM:  Yes,  they'll  be  looked  after. 
JIMMY:  For   heaven's   sake,   old  boy.     You're   not 
going  to  send  them  away  with  fifteen  thousand  in  their 
pockets  ? 

MAGGIE:  He  won't  have  fifteen  thousand  to  give 
them,  if  he's  refused  the  money. 
JIMMY:  I  simply  don't  get  it,  Tom.  Why  should  you 
give  these  fellows  a  farthing  ? 

TOM:  If  they  want  it,  there's  a  moral  obligation. 
Isn't  there?  It  was  theirs.  It  is  theirs.  Surely  you 
can  see  in  the  situation,  it's  only  right  and  proper? 
MAGGIE:  I  can  imagine  no  situation  in  which  it's 
right  and  proper  for  dissatisfied  customers  to  return 
thirty  years  later  and  ask  for  their  money  back. 

\Torn  thinks  this  over,  and  is  impressed^ 

TOM  :  You  know  ...  I  think  you're  right. 

JIMMY:  Of  course  she's  right. 

TOM  :  Why  should  they  get  anything  ? 

JIMMY:  You  can't  be  under  a  moral  obligation  to 

men  like  that. 

TOM:  You  are  right,  you're  absolutely  right.    They 

shan't  have  a  penny — not  a  penny. 

MAGGIE:  And  you're  going  to  accept  the  money., 

aren't  you  ? 

TOM:  Well.  .  .  . 

503 


ACT    THREE 

MAGGIE:  Don't  forget,   apart  from   anything  else, 

you  owe  eight  hundred  pounds.  .  .  . 

TOM  :  That's  not  enough  reason.  I  want.  .  .  . 

MAGGIE  :  A  sign  from  above  ? 

TOM  :  Yes.  A  sign  from  above. 

[The  door  opens.  .  .  .  Edward  and  Clarissa  enter  in  a 
state  of  some  excitement.} 

CLARISSA:  Well  1   He's  done  it. 
MAGGIE:  Done  what? 

EDWARD:  I've  thrown  up  my  job.  Pension  and  all. 
TOM:  Oh!  Er.  .  .  . 

EDWARD  (to  Tom)--  I've  burned  my  boats,  and  in 
sulted  my  boss.  It  was  wonderful. 
CLARISSA:  Dear  Uncle  Tom!    I  can't  tell  you  how 
grateful  I  am.    (Taking  Edward's  arm.}    He's  a  dif 
ferent  person. 

EDWARD  :  I  feel  terrific.  Free ! 
CLARISSA:  He  just  wasn't  right  in  the  job.  Now  he's 
my  own  dear  Edward  again.   (She  puts  her  arm  round 
his  neck  and  kisses  him.) 

EDWARD  (to  Tom):  I'm  tremendously  grateful  to 
you,  sir,  for  making  it  possible.  Without  your 
financial  backing  I  know  I'd  never  have  had  the 
courage. 

TOM:  Have  you  ...  er  ...  completely.  .  .   ? 
EDWARD:  Oh — completely. 
TOM:  Oh! 

EDWARD:  I    marched    into    Murgatroyd's    office — 
didn't  knock — and  told  him  I  wouldn't  be  coming 
back.  When  it  finally  all  sank  in,  he  said,  "  But  you 
can't  do  that!   This  hasty  decision.  .  .  ." 
TOM  :  It  is  rather  hasty,  isn't  it  ? 
EDWARD:  There  seemed  to  be  no  point  in  waiting. 
TOM:  But  I  didn't  know  you  were  going  to.  ... 

504 


BOTH    ENDS    MEET 

EDWARD:  "And"  he  said,  "  if  you  think  of  nothing 

else,  think  of  your  lost  emoluments." 

CLARISSA  :  Lost  what  ? 

EDWARD:  Emoluments.    It's  a  word  they  use  for 

money.    Think  of  your  pension.  "  Fiddle-de-dee  to 

that,"  I  said.  He  nearly  fainted.  To  them,  the  pension 

is  Mecca.   Something  far  off  and  beautiful,  to  be 

thought  of  during  the  magic  hours  of  sunrise,  sunset 

and  morning  coffee. 

TOM  :  I  think  you  have  been  rather  hasty.   If  I  were 

you,  Fd  go  back  there  and.  ... 

EDWARD:  Oh,  I  couldn't  do  that.   To  begin  with,  I 

wouldn't.   Apart  from  which,  I've  completely  given 

them  the  chuck.    Written  and  posted  the  official 

letter — and  I  feel  fine. 

MAGGIE  (to  Tom):  How  do  you  feel? 

TOM  :  I  feel  I've  had  the  sign  from  above.  I've  got  to 

accept  the  money. 

MAGGIE:  That's  right. 

[The  door  bell  rings.} 

JIMMY:  Tom — if  this  is  Sir  George  or  Lord  Minster, 
you  will  be  adamant,  won't  you  ? 
TOM:  Yes.     But    if   there's    any    argument,    you'll 
back  me  up,  won't  you  ? 

\]immy  nods.} 

JIMMY:  Not  a  penny. 
TOM  :  Not  a  penny. 

[Maggie  re-enters.} 

MAGGIE:  Lord  Minster. 

\Lfird  Minster  enters^ 

LORD    MINSTER    (breezily):  Good   morning.     I    just 


ACT    THREE 

thought  I'd  look  in  and.  .  .  .  (He  sees  the  others?) 
Oh! 

TOM  :  Now !   You  said  five  thousand  ? 
LORD  MINSTER  :  Well — this  is  rather.  .  .  . 
TOM:  The  whole   thing   has  been  discussed   quite 
openly,  so  I  assure  you  there's  nothing  to  be  em 
barrassed  about. 

LORD  MINSTER  :  Oh !  Well,  in  that  case.  .  .  .  You're 
quite  right,  of  course.  There  is  nothing  to  be  em 
barrassed  about.  The  only  real  embarrassment  was 
walking  in  here  last  night  and  finding  George.  (He 
laughs.}  After  all  these  years,  it'd  be  a  shame  if  he 
found  out  about  myself  and  Sophie. 
JIMMY:  Lord  Minster,  I  am  Mr.  Davenport's  solicitor. 
Have  you  any  proof — about  this  five  thousand 
pounds  ? 

LORD  MINSTER:  My  dear  fellow,  you're  not  going  to 
drag  this  into  Court? 

JIMMY:  Anybody   could   arrive   and   tell   the   same 
story. 

LORD  MINSTER:  Anybody? 

JIMMY:  We   might   get  half  the  Athenaeum   Club 
marching  in. 

LORD  MINSTER:  They  can't  walk,  let  alone  march. 
(To  Tom).  Fm  only  sorry  to  have  to  spoil  a  charming 
memory  by  mentioning  the  sum  involved. 
JIMMY:  Yes,  but  have  you  any  proof? 

[Sir  George  Treherne  appears  in  the  doonvay.] 

LORD  MINSTER:  Funnily  enough  I  kept  a  letter  from 
her.  .  .  .  (Keadingit.}  MydearToto — Five  thousand 
thanks — you  see,  five  thousand  pounds  was  the  sum 
I  gave  her — for  the  enchanting  gift.  I  shall  remain  for 
ever  in  your  debt,  Sophie. 
SIR  GEORGE:  What  five  thousand  that  you  gave  her? 

506 


BOTH    ENDS    MEET 

(To  Tom.}  A  middle-aged  person  was  admitting  her 
self  at  the  front  door.  ... 

TOM:  Oh,  the  daily  woman.    She's  arrived.    That's 
good. 

SIR  GEORGE  (to  Lord  Minster) :  You  gave  Sophie  five 
thousand  pounds  ?  May  I  ask  why  ? 
LORD  MINSTER  :  But  surely  you  remember  ? 
SIR  GEORGE:  Most  surely  I  do  not. 
LORD  MINSTER  :  I  told  you  all  about  it  at  the  time. 
SIR  GEORGE:  Had  you  told  me  about  it  at  the  time, 
you  would  not  be  here  to  tell  me  about  it  now. 
LORD  MINSTER:  Now,  George.  .  .  . 
SIR  GEORGE:  I  would  have  knocked  your  silly  head 
off. 

LORD  MINSTER:  Don't  be  ridiculous.   It  was  all  per 
fectly  innocent. 

SIR  GEORGE  (suddenly):  You  were  the  man  in  the 
cupboard. 

LORD  MINSTER  :  Man  in  the  cupboard  ? 
SIR  GEORGE:  In  nineteen  sixteen.  I  came  back  to 
Paris  on  leave,  unexpectedly.  I  called  upon  Sophie, 
was  kept  waiting,  and  then  shown  into  her  bedroom, 
where  she  was  lying  on  a  chaise-longue,  in  an  elabor 
ate  toilette,  with  noticeably  heightened  colour. 

LORD  MINSTER :    Well  ? 

SIR  GEORGE  :  She  told  me  that  since  my  departure  her 

life  had  been  a  desert.   Her  mornings  a  wilderness — 

and  nothing  to  look  forward  to  in  the  evenings. 

LORD  MINSTER  :  I'm  sure  that  was  true. 

SIR  GEORGE  (to  Maggie)-.  I  ask  you!   Do  ladies  with 

nothing  to  look  forward  to  in  the  evenings  put  on 

evening  dress  ? 

MAGGIE  :  If  anything,  they  take  them  off. 

SIR  GEORGE  (to  Lord  Minster) :  On  the  floor,  pushed 

out  of  sight  but  perfectly  visible  to  my  eye,  was  a 

British  Staff  Officer's  cap. 

507 


ACT    THREE 

LORD  MINSTER:  That  might  have  been  anybody's. 
SIR   GEORGE:  That   occurred   to    me   at   the   time. 
Sophie  knew  so  many  distinguished  persons.    One 
did  not  wish  to  fling  open  the  door  of  a  cupboard  and 
disclose  one's  commanding  general. 
MAGGIE  (fascinated) :  How  did  you  know  there  was 
anyone  in  the  cupboard  ? 

SIR  GEORGE  (deathly  serious)'.  Somebody  sneezed. 
MAGGIE  (enthralled) :  In  the  cupboard  ? 
SIR  GEORGE:  Quite  definitely. 

MAGGIE  (delighted):  But  I've  been  in  this,  scores  of 
times ! 

SIR  GEORGE  :  In  it  ? 

MAGGIE:  In  repertory  companies.  It's  traditional. 
The  maid  dashes  in  and  says,  "  Your  lover  has  re 
turned  unexpectedly!  " — so  you  push  your  new 
lover  into  the  cupboard.  (To  Lord  Minster?)  Was 
there  anyone  else  in  the  cupboard  ? 
LORD  MINSTER:  No. 

SIR  GEORGE  (to  'Lord  Minster) :  So  there  was  nobody 
else  in  the  cupboard  ? 
LORD  MINSTER  :  What  ? 
SIR  GEORGE:  Just  yourself. 

[Lord  Minster  is  about  to  speak.] 

You've  admitted  it.  (To  the  others?}  He's  admitted  it. 
LORD  MINSTER:  Well,  I.  ...  (He  laughs.}  At  this 
stage  in  our  lives,  what's  the  point  of  denying  it? 
Yes,  I  was  in  the  cupboard.  (To  Tom.)  I  should 
explain  it  was  a  huge,  built-in  affair.  Room  for  six 
or  seven.  It  was  just  a  joke. 

SIR  GEORGE:  A  joke!  I  said  nothing  to  Sophie  at 
the  time,  because  I  couldn't  bear  to  see  her  humiliated. 

LORD  MINSTER  :  You  said  nothing  to  Sophie  because 
508 


BOTH    ENDS    MEET 

about  a  minute  after  I  sneezed  there  was  an  air-raid 

warning  and  you  said,  "  My  hat !    Zeppelins !  " — 

and  rushed  back  to  H.Q.   H.Q.  being,  of  course, 

the  downstairs  bar  at  the  Crillon. 

SIR  GEORGE:  You — of  all  people!    And  how  many 

more  were  there  like  you  ?  I  ask  myself. 

MAGGIE:  We  all  ask  ourselves. 

SIR  GEORGE  (to  the  air) :  Perhaps  you  will  inform  me 

when  this  person  has  left  the  premises  ?  I  shall  wait 

out  here  in  the  .  .   .  (surveying  it}  yard. 

[He  goes  into  the  garden^ 

MAGGIE:  \         ... 

VYard 
JIMMY:     j 

LORD  MINSTER  (amused)  :  I'll  calm  him  down.  Sorry. 
I'm  afraid  I  never  can  resist  pulling  his  leg.  (Going.) 
George,  don't  be  such  an  old  chump.  .  .  . 

[He  follows  Sir  George  into  the  garden .] 

JIMMY:  You're  going  to  have  a  tough  time  shaking 

them  off. 

TOM:  I  don't  see  why.   I'll  simply  tell  them.  .  .  . 

JIMMY:  Telling    them    won't    get    you    anywhere. 

They're  the  sort  who'll  hang  on  like  grim  death. 

Before  you  know  where  you  are,  they'll  be  saying 

you  tacitly  admitted  their  claims,  and  with  a  couple 

like  that  you'll  be  in  a  lawsuit  before  you  can  say 

"  knife  ". 

MAGGIE:  I  think  we  could  get  rid  of  them  both, 

for  good — if  it  worked. 

JIMMY:  If  what  worked  ? 

MAGGIE  (looking  at  the  calendar] :  "  Experience  always 

comes  in  useful." 

TOM  :  What  experience  ? 

509 


ACT    THREE 

MAGGIE:  Ours — here — yesterday,  with  Edward.  We 

were  all  in  a  fine  panic,  discovering  we'd  given  away 

secrets  right  and  left  in  front  of  an  Income  Tax 

official. 

EDWARD  :  But  I'm  not  one  any  more, 

MAGGIE  :  They  don't  know  that,  do  they  ? 

TOM   (musing)-.  I'm   sure   they  both  have  a  lot   of 

secrets. 

MAGGIE:  Lots  and  lots. 

TOM  (thoughtfully) :  What  we'd  have  to  do  is  lead  the 

conversation  round  to  the  subject  of  taxation. 

JIMMY:  Maggie,  I  think  you've  got  something.    (To 

Tom.)  If  we  get  away  with  it,  we  shan't  see  them  for 

dust.    I  mean,  look  at  the  flap  I  was  in.    I  was 

practically  on  a  boat  for  New  Zealand. 

TOM:  We  shall  need  lots  of  champagne.    Clarissa, 

would  you  mind  ? — it's  in  the  kitchen. 

[Clarissa  goes.] 

[Sir  George  re-enters  >  followed  by  Lord  Minster.] 

SIR  GEORGE:  Go  away!    I  do  not  wish  to  bandy 

words  with  the  type  of  man  who  hides  in  cupboards. 

LORD  MINSTER:  Good  thing  it  wasn't  your  family 

cupboard.    I'd  never  have  been  able  to  get  in  for 

skeletons. 

SIR  GEORGE:  At  least  we  have  a  family  cupboard, 

which  is  more  than  can  be  said  of  some. 

LORD  MINISTER  :  Twit  me  as  much  as  you  like  about 

being  the  first  Lord  Minster,  dear  old  chap.  Doesn't 

worry  me  at  all.    I'm  not  ashamed  of  having  been 

made  a  peer. 

SIR  GEORGE:  No  labourer  should  be  ashamed  of  the 

fruits  of  his  toil. 

LORD  MINSTER  :  I  beg  your  pardon  ? 

510 


BOTH    ENDS    MEET 

SIR  GEORGE:  I  remember  it  happening  so  well.  I 
was  sitting  in  the  Club,  and  someone  said,  "  I  see 
they've  made  Dickie  Minster  a  peer.  I  am  glad. 
He's  worked  so  hard  for  it.  The  only  sad  thing  is, 
now  he's  become  a  peer,  there'll  be  nothing  left  for 
him  to  work  for."  "  Oh,  I  don't  know,"  I  replied. 
"  He  might  work  even  harder  and  become  a  gentle 
man." 

LORD  MINSTER  :  In  your  Club,  were  you  ?  I  wonder 
you  heard  one  another  above  the  noise  of  bouncing 
cheques. 

TOM:  Er  .  .  .  wouldn't  you  both  like  a  drink ? 
SIR  GEORGE:  Not  for.  .  .  . 

MAGGIE:  Oh  yes — do.  It's — er — it  can  be  such  a 
help. 

[Clarissa  re-enters  with  champagne.} 

TOM:  Champagne? 

LORD  MINSTER  :  Personally,  there's  only  one  thing  I'd 

like  more  than  a  glass  of  champagne 

JIMMY:  What's  that? 

LORD  MINSTER:  Two  glasses.  (He  laughs.} 

MAGGIE  (with  a  look  at  Tom) :  I'm  sure  we  can  arrange 

that. 

LORD  MINSTER:  Can't  afford  much  of  it  nowadays. 

[Maggie  looks  at  Tom.,  and  takes  a  breath.} 

MAGGIE:  The  taxation,  I  suppose? 

LORD  MINSTER  :  You've  hit  the  nail  bang  on  the  head. 

What  I  couldn't  say  about  the  Income  Tax ! 

EDWARD:  Oh,  really? 

LORD  MINSTER:  Eh,  George? 

[Sir  George  grunts.} 


ACT    THREE 

Bet  you  could  say  a  bit,  if  you  chose, 

SIR  GEORGE:  It  is  not  a  subject  about  which  I  wish 

even  to  think. 

MAGGIE:  Pity. 

LORD  MINSTER:  Not  in  public.   But  you  do  quite  a 

bit  of  thinking  in  private,  don't  you  ?    Or  so  Fm 

told.  (To  the  others?)  And  you  can  be  sure  he  doesn't 

think  to  no  purpose. 

SIR  GEORGE:  Perhaps  you  would  be  kind  enough. 

LORD  MINSTER:    George,  stop  being  so  crusty.  I'm 

paying  you  a  compliment.    Everyone   I   know   is 

filled  with  admiration  for  the  way  you  diddle  the 

Tax  Collector. 

MAGGIE  (wide-eyed] :  What  do  you  mean  ? 

LORD  MINSTER  :  You  know.   Tax  evasion. 

SIR  GEORGE:  Really,  Dickie.  .  .  ! 

LORD  MINSTER:  Now  don't  deny  it.    Who  bought 

Marie  Antoinette's  desk,  and  got  away  with  charging 

it  as  office  furniture  ? 

[Sir  George,  m  spite  oj  himself ,  begins  to  chuckle.} 

And  not  only  her  desk,  but  two  armchairs  and  a 

magnificent  mirror. 

SIR  GEORGE  (amused}\  Well,  one  has  to  have  a  desk 

in  one's  office,  and  a  chair  to  sit  on,  and  a  glass  for 

the  wretched  typist  to  look  at  herself  in. 

LORD  MINSTER:  Yes,  but  one  doesn't  then  have  to  get 

in  touch  with  the  authorities  at  Versailles,  and  have 

them    over   here    buying    everything   back,    at    an 

enormous  capital  gain  to  yourself. 

SIR     GEORGE     (smiting):  Oh,    nonsense,     nonsense. 

These  things  become  grossly  exaggerated. 

LORD  MINSTER:  How  you  ever  swung  that  one,  I 

can't  imagine.   Sheer  impudence,  I  suppose  ? 

512 


BOTH    ENDS    MEET 

SIR  GEORGE  :    Like  your  brandy  smuggling. 
MAGGIE:  What? 
SIR  GEORGE  :  Brandy  smuggling. 
LORD  MINSTER  :  I  don't  know  what  you  mean. 
SIR  GEORGE:  Got  you  on  the  raw  there,  eh  Dickie? 
(To  the  rest}   He  has  a  country  house  looking  over 
Romney    Marsh — famous    smuggling    country,    of 
course.  .  .  . 

LORD   MINSTER  (fussed}:  George,   there   are   certain 
things  one  doesn't  say  in  public.  .  .  . 
SIR  GEORGE  :  You  started  it. 

LORD  MINSTER:  I  merely  repeated  something  every 
body  knows,  .  .  . 

SIR  GEORGE  :  And  you,  I  suppose,  think  that  all  your 
chicanery  is  a  dark  secret? 

LORD  MINSTER:  Nothing  illegal  can  be  kid  at  my 
front  door. 
SIR  GEORGE:  It's  laid,  so  I  believe,  at  your  back  door. 

LORD  MINSTER :    What  IS  ? 

SIR  GEORGE  :  The  brandy. 

LORD  MINSTER:  Really,  George!  I  don't  know  what. 
.   .  .  (.Accepting  a  glass  of  champagne.}   Thank  you. 
SIR  GEORGE  :  You  had  a  butler  called  Trimmingham. 
For  the  last  two  years  he  has  been  with  me.    (He 
laughs.}  We  have  most  interesting  talks  about  you. 
LORD  MINSTER:  Discussing  me  with  a  former  ser 
vant.  It  amounts  to  spying. 
SIR  GEORGE  :  Like  hiding  in  cupboards  ? 
CLARISSA  :  Do  have  a  gkss  of  champagne,  Sir  George. 
MAGGIE:  Tell  us  about  the  smuggling. 
CLARISSA:  There's  something  so  glamorous  about 
smuggling. 

LORD  MINSTER  (taking  them  in,  not  for  the  first  time) :  To 
charming  young  women  like  yourselves,  how  could 
an  old  fellow  like  me  ever  do  anything  gkmorous? 
MAGGIE  (wide-eyed) :  But  men  of  your  age — I  mean, 

*7  513 


ACT    THREE 

attractive  men — are  the  most  glamorous  of  all. 
(She  sits  looking  up  into  his  eyes.)  D'you  think  that's 
silly? 

LORD  MINSTER  (blossom'ttg) :  Not  at  all. 
CLARISSA:  Do  tell  us  about  your  dark  secrets. 
LORD  MINSTER  (smiling)  \  Well,  I  oughtn't  to. 
MAGGIE:  I  love  doing  things  I  oughtn't  to,  don't 
you? 

LORD  MINSTER:  Yes,  indeed. 

EDWARD  :  Do  tell  us,  how  you  manage  the  smuggling. 
LORD  MINSTER:  Well,  it's  not  really  smuggling.    I 
have  some  very  good  friends  in  Brittany — in  the 
wine  trade,  and  I  have  a  small  yacht,  which  oc 
casionally  goes  out  and  gets  lost  and  has  to  put  in  at 
St.  Malo  or  somewhere  round  there.  Then  it  sets  out 
again,  with  a  few  bottles  of  brandy.  .  .  . 
SIR  GEORGE  :  About  a  hundred  dozen. 
LORD  MINSTER:  And  finds  its  way  home.  .  .  . 
SIR  GEORGE  :  At  dead  of  night. 
LORD  MINSTER  :  And  that's  all  there  is  to  it. 
SIR  GEORGE:  Apart  from  a  handsome  profit. 
MAGGIE:  How  romantic. 

LORD  MINSTER:  Mark  you,  it's  just  a  bit  of  fun. 
One  likes  to  feel  one's  still  got  some  dash.  .  .  . 
CLARISSA:  Of  course. 

LORD  MINSTER:  So  one  amuses  oneself — once  in  a 
while. 

SIR  GEORGE:  Trimmingham  said  once  a  month. 
LORD  MINSTER:  Trimmingham  had  better.  .  .  , 
(Suddenly?)  You  stopped  the  night  at  the  Marsh, 
about  four  years  ago  on  your  way  to  France.  I 
suppose  that's  when  you  got  hold  of  him,  bribed 
him,  .  .  . 

SIR  GEORGE:  Bribed  him? 

LORD  MINSTER:  With  tales  about  what  he  could  make 


BOTH    ENDS    MEET 

out  of  those  expensive  teas  you  serve  on  the  days  you 
open  your  stately  home  to  the  public. 

[Sir  George  is  about  to  speak.~\ 

Yes,  and  I'm  told  he  takes  at  least  four  times  more  in 
gate  money  than  is  ever  revealed  to  the  Tax  Inspector. 
SIR  GEORGE:  That  could  be  checked.  There  are 
admission  tickets. 

LORD  MINSTER:  But  only  one  visitor  in  every  four 
seems  to  get  one. 
SIR  GEORGE:  Who  told  you  that? 
LORD  MINSTER  :  Freddie  Bradford. 
SIR  GEORGE:  Who? 

LORD  MINSTER  :  The  Duke  of  Bradford. 
SIR  GEORGE:  The  Duke  of  Bradford?  But  he's  been 
invited  to  stay  as  a  guest.   Why  should  he  pay  five- 
shillings  and  be  herded  round  with  the  trippers? 
LORD  MINSTER:  Because,  he  said,  it's  less  boring  that 
way — and  you  get  a  better  tea. 

SIR  GEORGE  :  Really  ?  If  a  few  of  the  facts  about  the 
Duke  of  Bradford  were  known,  he  wouldn't  be  at 
liberty  to  go  snooping  round  other  people's  houses. 
LORD  MINSTER  :  Quite  true.   (To  Jimmy.}  He  lets  his 
shooting  to  wealthy  Americans,  gets  dollars  on  the 
sly,  and  then  asks  them  for  fifty  per  cent  of  the  bag — 
which  he  sells  on  the  quiet  to  a  London  hotel. 
SIR  GEORGE  (to  Tom)  \  That's  true. 
LORD  MINSTER  :  Oh,  I  know  it  is,  because  he  told  me 
himself— and  that  you'd  put  him  up  to  it. 
SIR  GEORGE  :  I  put  him  up  to  it  ?   Of  all  the.  .  .  . 
LORD  MINSTER  :  Oh,  come  off  it,  George.   Everyone 
knows  about  your  shoot.  It's  famous. 
SIR  GEORGE:  Where  on  earth  do  you  hear  these 
things  ? 
LORD  MINSTER:  Just  gossip. 


ACT    THREE 

SIR  GEORGE:  It's  high  time  they  abolished  the  House 

of  Lords. 

LORD  MINSTER:  We  won't  mention  the  workmen's 

cottages  on  your  estate.    The  tenants  only  pay  ten 

shillings  a  week — on  paper — but  they  all  seem  to  have 

Rolls  Royces. 

SIR  GEORGE:  Might  we  just  pause  and  consider  the 

East  Wing  of  your  country  house,  let  to  a  Canadian 

family.  .  .  . 

LORD  MINSTER:  They  are  my  guests. 

SIR  GEORGE:  And  have  been  your  guests  for  the 

last  seven  years.    Rather  a  long  visit — unless   of 

course,  they're  paying  guests.    Now,  I  wonder  if 

there's  an  account  in  a  bank  in  Montreal,  not  of 

course  in  the  name  of  Lord  Minster.  .  .  . 

LORD  MINSTER  :  I' ve  never  been  to  Canada.  .  .  . 

SIR  GEORGE  :  But  you  have  been  to  New  York,  where 

Canadian  dollars  are  so  useful.    Trimmingham  did 

so  enjoy  the  trip  with  you.  He  said  the  Chase  National 

Bank.  .  .  . 

LORD  MINSTER:  George,  you're  going  much  too  far. 

I  think  the  champagne  must  have  gone  to  your  head. 

SIR  GEORGE:  It  always  does. 

LORD  MINSTER  :  You've  said  quite  enough. 

JIMMY:  He  has. 

MAGGIE  (suddenly) :  Edward !   I'd  forgotten  all  about 

you.    We  shouldn't.  .  .  .  You   oughtn't  to  have. 

...  Oh  dear! 

TOM:  What's  the  matter? 

MAGGIE  :  Edward  1  He's  heard  everything  Sir  George 

and  Lord  Minster  have  been  saying. 

SIR  GEORGE  (alarm  J)  i  What? 

TOM:  Of  course!  I  didn't  realise. 

JIMMY:  Edward,  you  will  treat  everything  you've 

heard  as  confidential,  won't  you  ? 


BOTH    ENDS    MEET 


LORD  MINSTER:!  I  should  hope  so. 
SIR  GEORGE:     J  Why  shouldn't  he ? 
JIMMY  (to  Sir  George) :  Don't  panic,  it'll  be  all  right. 
SIR   GEORGE  (infuriated}:  What  d'you  mean,   don't 
panic? 

LORD  MINSTER  (through  this) :  What's  going  on  ? 
CLARISSA:  Edward,  if  only  you'd  say  something. 
TOM  (to  Sir  George)-.  Jimmy's  right.   You  must  keep 
calm. 

SIR  GEORGE  (maddened) :  I  am  calm. 
TOM:  No.  You're  shouting.  You're  getting  worked 
up.  We  must  keep  our  heads. 
SIR  GEORGE:  Will  you  kindly  explain  yourself.   (To 
Edward.)  What  is  he? 
LORD  MINSTER:  A  policeman? 
MAGGIE  (to  Lord  Minster) :  It'll  be  all  right. 
CLARISSA:  Edward   wouldn't   do   anything   under 
hand,  would  you,  Edward? 

MAGGIE:  He's  really  reliable,  and  conscientious.  .  .  . 
LORD  MINSTER  (taking  Edward'' *s  arm) :  I  don't  know 
who  or  what  you  are,  but  I'm  sure  you'll  respect  a 
private  conversation.  (Easily.)  You  and  I  are 
gentlemen,  and  we  don't  eavesdrop.  .  .  . 

{Edward gives  him  a  sharp  look.  Lord  Minster  is  confused.} 

LORD  MINSTER:  You  know,  I  stupidly  didn't  catch 
your  name.  .  .  . 

[Edward  silently  produces  a  card,  and  hands  it  to  him} 

Oh,  thanks  so  much.  Kinnerton,  of  course.  (Glanc 
ing.}  Well,  now — as  I  said.  .  .  . 

[He  trails  of,  aghast  at  what  he  has  seen  written  on  the 
card.  He  looks  at  Edward  whose  face  is  immovable.  Edward 
turns,  and  goes  into  the  garden} 

517 


ACT    THREE 

SIR  GEORGE:  What's  the  matter? 
\lLord  Minster  silently  hands  him  the  card^\ 

The  Commissioners  of  Inland.  .  .  .  (He  sits.) 
LORD  MINSTER:  I  wonder  if  I  might  .  .  .  have  a 
little  brandy  ?   (He  sits.) 
TOM:  Brandy?   Of  course. 

SIR  GEORGE  (furiously.  At  Lord  Minster) :    This  is  all 
your  fault. 

LORD  MINSTER  (at  Sir  George):  It  was  you  who 
brought  the  subject  up. 

SIR  GEORGE  (fuming)'.  My  office  furniture  ...  the 
workmen's  cottages.  .  .  . 
LORD  MINSTER:  My  Canadians. 

MAGGIE  (calmingly^  between  them] :  You  mustn>t  blame 
yourselves.  Whichever  one  of  you  it  was  who 
started  to  talk  about  Income  Tax.  .  .  .  The  harm's 
done. 

LORD  MINSTER:  Harm?   Announcing  that  I  import 
hundreds  of  dozens  of  cases  of  brandy. 
TOM  (handing  a  glass  of  brandy) :  Brandy. 
LORD  MINSTER  (moving  to  Sir  George) :  George,  we've 
stirred  up  a  hornet's  nest. 
SIR  GEORGE:  You  mean  you  have. 
LORD  MINSTER:  We've  got  to  think  quickly,  or  we'll 
have  the  tax  people  down  on  us.  Of  course,  I  know 
your  financial  skies  are  rosy.  .  .  . 
SIR  GEORGE  :  Not  so  rosy  now  you've  filled  them  with 
vultures. 

LORD  MINSTER  (agitated} :  I  don't  know  what  I'd  do 
if  a  lot  of  officials  started  prying  about  in  my  affairs. 
I  think  I'd  shoot  myself.  What  would  you  do  ? 
SIR  GEORGE:  I'd  shoot  the  officials. 
JIMMY  :  Happily,  I  think  I  can  get  you  out  of  all  this 
trouble. 

518 


BOTH    ENDS    MEET 

LORD  MINSTER:  Oh,  really? 

JIMMY:  If,  in  return,  you'll  do  something  for  me. 
LORD  MINSTER  :  Of  course,  of  course.  Anything  you 
like. 

JIMMY:  That  young  man's  going  to  marry  Mr. 
Davenport's  niece  and  if  he  feels  morally  obliged  to 
remember  the  unfortunate  things  you've  both — 
quite  accidentally — revealed,  Mr.  Davenport  might 
feel  morally  obliged  to  support  his  future  nephew. 
So  don't  you  agree  you'd  be  wiser  to  forget  your 
claims. 

SIR  GEORGE:  I  am  perfectly  prepared  to  waive  any 
claim.  If  you  can  assure  me  that  matters  .  .  .  (indi 
cating  the  garden)  .  .  .  out  there,  can  be  arranged 
satisfactorily. 

JIMMY:  D'you  feel  the  same  way,  tord  Minster? 
LORD  MINSTER:  Yes,  yes,  of  course. 
JIMMY  :  Then  may  I  have  the  letter  ? 

[Sir  George  and  Lord  Minster  hand  him  identical  letters.] 

(Surprised.}  Thank  you.  Thank  you.  Well,  gentle 
men,  I  think  I  can  assure  you  that  everything  will  be 
all  right.  (To  Tom.}  Tom,  I'm  rowing  better  today, 
aren't  I  ? 

\]immy  goes  into  the  garden.] 

MAGGIE:  Gentlemen,  I  have  an  idea.  I  don't  pre 
tend  to  be  half  as  intelligent  as  either  of  you,  but  I 
think  the  best  thing  would  be  for  you  both  just  to 
disappear. 

SIR  GEORGE:  You  mean — now? 
MAGGIE:  Yes.   You  go — and  we  don't  know  where 
you  are,  or  how  to  get  in  touch  with  you — and  we 
never  see  you  again,  ever. 

5*9       - 


ACT    THREE 

SIR  GEORGE  (rising) :  You're  right.  You're  absolutely 

right. 

LORD  MINSTER:  But  look  here,  are  you  absolutely 

sure  you  can  persuade  him.  .  .  .  One  doesn't  want 

to  spend  the  rest  of  one's  life  in  fear  and  trembling. 

MAGGIE:  You'll  just  both  have  to  be  very,  very 
careful  in  the  future,  won't  you  ? 
SIR  GEORGE:     "i  Definitely! 
LORD  MINSTER  :j  Of  course! 

\Tbe  door  bell  rmgs.~\ 

SIR  GEORGE:  We'd  better  make  outselves  scarce. 

LORD    MINSTER    (shaking    Tow's    band)'.  Well,    it's 

extremely  good  of  you. 

SIR  GEORGE:  Yes,  indeed. 

TOM  (opening  door  and  calling) :  It's  all  right,  Mrs.  Small. 

\Torn  goes.} 

SIR  GEORGE  (to  *Lord  Minster) :  Well,  no  more  little 

night  trips  in  the  Channel  for  you — eh?    Pity.    I 

was  going  to  ask  you  to  get  some  brandy  for  me. 

LORD  MINSTER  (quiefly):  As  a  matter  of  fact,  I'm 

pretty  well  stocked,  and  just  in  case  anyone  should 

come  snooping,  I  might  like  to  get  rid  of  it. 

SIR  GEORGE:  I'll  give  you  twenty  shillings  a  bottle. 

LORD  MINSTER  (outraged):  Twenty  shillings?    In  a 

shop,  you  won't  get  it  under  forty-five. 

SIR  GEORGE  :  In  prison,  you  won't  get  it  at  all. 

[Sir  George  goes.] 

LORD  MINSTER  (to  Maggie) :  I'm  sorry  our  acquaintance 
has  been  so  brief.    Thank  you  for  being  so  kind. 
You've  been  most  helpful.  Most  helpful. 
MAGGIE  :  It  was  a  pleasure. 

520 


BOTH    ENDS    MEET 

LORD  MINSTER;  Tell  me.  I  don't  know  whether  you'd 
ever  fancy  a  quiet  little  dinner  with  a  lonely  old 
bachelor.  .  .    ? 
MAGGIE:  I'd  love  it. 

[Lord  Minster  beams  at  her.] 

So  would  Tom. 

LORD  MINSTER:  Tom? 

MAGGIE:  My  fiance! 

LORD  MINSTER  (dashef):  Oh!   Is  he?  I  didn't  realise 

.  .  .  er — (Depressed.)     Yes.    Well,   we   must   think 

about  it. 

[He  turns  to  Tomy  who  has  re-entered  with  Mr.  Wilson. 
He  looks  closely  at  Mr.  Wilson^ 

I  know  your  face.    I've  met  you  at  my  nephew's. 

Reggie  Cartwright. 

WILSON  (diffidently) :  Oh.  Yes. 

LORD  MINSTER  (to  Tom)  \  He's  an  old  Army  friend  of 

my  nephew's. 

TOM  :  Oh,  really  ?  Mr.  Wilson's  an  old  Army  friend 

of  mine,  too. 

LORD  MINSTER:  Quite  a  coincidence. 

TOM:  Mr.  Wilson  has  lots  of  old  Army  friends. 

LORD  MINSTER  (to  Mr.  Wilson) :  Have  you  seen  Reggie 

lately? 

WILSON:  Not  this  quarter  ...  er  ...  not  for  some 

time. 

LORD  MINSTER:  Well,  I'll  tell  him  I  ran  into  you.  Do 

look  him  up.  He'll  be  delighted. 

[Lord  Minster  has  gone, ,] 

WILSON:  I'm  so  sorry  having  to  come  back  like  this 
.  .  .  it's  just  that  you  made  a  little  mistake.  .  .  . 

521 


ACT    THREE 

MAGGIE  :  With  the  date.   (She  smiles.}  I  know. 
WILSON:  I  did  come  back  last  evening — about  half- 
past  six.    I  rang  and  rang,  but  I  couldn't  get  an 
answer. 

MAGGIE  :  Oh !  It  was  you.  (She  looks  at  Tom.} 
WILSON:  It  wasn't  really  a  business  call.  (To  Tom?) 
I  thought  it'd  be  a  nice  occasion  to  congratulate  you 
on  this  wonderful  news  in  the  paper — about  all  this 
money  you've  inherited,  and  to  get  the  cheque  put 
right.  I  suppose  you  two  are  going  to  get  married 
now? 

MAGGIE:  Yes. 
TOM:  Well,  I  don't  know. 
WILSON  :  Why  not  ? 

TOM:  Well,  Mr.  Wilson — isn't  it  true? — with  a  joint 
income  and  all  this  extra  money,  it's  almost  im 
possible.  .  .  . 

MAGGIE:  You  mean  yesterday  you  were  too  poor  to 
get  married,  today  you're  too  rich? 
TOM:  Yes. 

MAGGIE  :  Now  listen.  If  you  think.  .  .  . 
TOM:         ["Darling,    don't    get    over-excited.     Just 

think  about  it  calmly  and  clearly.  .  .  . 
MAGGIE  :  <  If  you  think  I'm  going  to  go  on  cooking 

and    sewing    and    doing    most    of    the 

housework.  .  .  . 

TOM  :  Maggie,  please!  I'm  only  trying  to  be  wise. 
MAGGIE  :  Let's  stop  being  wise.  We  are  going  to  be 
married.  I  don't  care  how  rich  you  are.   I  don't  care 
how  much  wiser  it'd  be  to  wait  until  you're  poorer, 
we're  going  to  be  married.  Unless,  of  course,  you've 
gone  off  the  whole  idea  of  marrying  me  ? 
TOM:  Darling — it's  just  a  question  of  having  a  little 
patience.  .  .  . 

MAGGIE  :  So  what  do  we  do  ?  Do  we  go  on,  as  we've 
gone  on  for  the  last.  .  .  . 

522 


BOTH    ENDS    MEET 

TOM  :  We've  got  along  very  well.  ,  .  . 

MAGGIE:  You  mean,  you've  got  along  very  well. 

Very  well  indeed.    Simply  fine!    But  it  might  have 

been  more  honest,  when  you  asked  me  to  be  your 

wife,  if  you'd  explained  that  what  you  really  wanted 

was  an  unpaid  cook-housekeeper. 

TOM:  Now,  Maggie.  .  .  . 

MAGGIE:  Always  ready,  when  called  upon.  .  .  . 

TOM  :  Have  you  lost  your  head  ? 

MAGGIE:  I've  lost  my  head,  my  patience,  and  my 

temper. 

\Jimmy  re-enters.} 

Go  away !  I  am  tired  of  running  up  and  down  those 
stairs,  morning,  noon,  and  all  times  of  the  night. 
TOM  (to  Wilson) :  You'd  better,  go  too. 
MAGGIE:  No.  You  stay. 

WILSON:  Well,  I  must  stay.  There's  my  cheque. 
TOM:  Maggie.  Darling. 
MAGGIE:  Go  away. 

TOM  :  Maggie,  you  don't  understand.  .  .  . 
MAGGIE:  I  understand  perfectly.    You've  no  inten 
tion  of  marrying  me.    I'd  better  start  looking  for 
someone  else. 
TOM:  What? 

MAGGIE:  Lord  Minster.   That's  who  I'll  marry. 
TOM:  Lord  Minster! 

MAGGIE:  Plenty  of  money,  and  he  knows  how  to 
cope  with  it. 

TOM  (furious}:  All  right!  Marry  Lord  Minster. 
Marry  anyone  you  like. 

WILSON:  Now,  now,  now.  You  don't  mean  that. 
You  may  seem  to  be  worse  off  when  you  work  it 
out  on  paper,  but  there's  a  lot  more  to  money  than 
mathematics.  You  go  ahead  and  get  married.  You'll 

523 


ACT    THREE 

find  there's  ways  and  means  of  getting  along.  Oh 
yes,  I  could  tell  you  lots  of  little  ways  and  means  of 
getting  along.  I  wouldn't  invest  the  money,  not 
these  days.  I'd  use  it  as  capital.  You  just  occupy 
the  ground  floor  here,  don't  you  ?  But,  for  instance, 
you  might  take  over  the  whole  house.  No,  I  wouldn't 
invest  it.  You  could  buy  a  country  cottage,  then 
you  could  probably  claim  all  this  house  as  an  office. 
Might  get  away  with  that  easily.  Then  there's  a 
Rolls  Royce.  They're  terrible  snobs,  the  tax  people. 
Won't  hear  of  a  cheap  car  being  charged  as  expenses, 
but  the  minute  you  mention  a  Rolls  Royce,  it's 
"  Oh  yes,  of  course.  Naturally  ".  You  might  buy  a 
farm.  Wonderful  allowances  for  running  a  farm — 
even  better  if  you  make  a  mess  of  it.  You  could  form 
yourself  into  a  company.  That's  always  good.  Or  a 
series  of  companies,  that's  even  better.  Then  there's 
deeds  of  covenant — quite  legal  and  very  useful.  And 
there's  maintenance  .  .  .  and  office  stationery  and 
wear  and  tear,  .  .  .  Oh,  but  there's  a  hundred  and 
one  lovely  little  dodges  I  could  put  you  up  to. 
TOM:  But,  Mr.  Wilson.  .  .  . 
WILSON:  What? 

TOM:  Mr.  Wilson,  you're  the  man  I've  been  looking 
for.    My  accountant's  no  good,  my  solicitor's  no 
good.  You  are  the  brain  I  need. 
WILSON  :  Twenty  years  serving  writs  for  Income  Tax, 
and  you  get  to  know  a  thing  or  two. 
MAGGIE:  You  wanted  a  financial  genius  ? 
TOM:  Yes. 

MAGGIE:  You've  found  him. 
TOM:  Yes. 
MAGGIE:  So  now  we  can  get  married? 

\Torn  looks  for  advice  at  Mr.  Wilson?^ 
WILSON:  Yes. 


BOTH    ENDS    MEET 

TOM:  Yes. 

^Tom  and  Maggie  embrace^ 

WILSON  (through  the  embrace}'.  Tying  the  knot  has  its 

advantages.    The  marriage  allowances  are  excellent. 

(He  takes  his  hat.} 

TOM  :  You're  not  going  ? 

WILSON:  More  business. 

TOM  :  But  I  need  your  advice. 

WILSON  :  My  advice  ? 

TOM:  You've  been  wonderful.    I  only  wish  there 

was  something  we  could  do  for  you  in  return. 

WILSON  (with  a  smile):  Well,  there's  really  nothing  I 

want.    The  only  thing  I  really  want's  a  flat,  and  no 

one  can  find  that. 

MAGGIE  (suddenly):  A  flat?  Tom!   Mr.  Wilson  wants 

aflat. 

TOM:  The  attic  floor! 

MAGGIE:  The  attic  floor.    Here.    They're  just  junk 

rooms  at  the  moment.  .  .  . 

TOM  :  But  they  could  be  quite  nice.  .  .  . 

MAGGIE:  Two  rooms,  kitchen,  and  bath.  .  .  . 

WILSON  (thrilled):  You  don't  mean  it? 

MAGGIE:  We'll  have  them  converted. 

WILSON:  You  don't  mean  it? 

TOM  :  We  do  mean  it. 

WILSON  :  I  couldn't  afford  much. 

MAGGIE:  That  doesn't  matter. 

WILSON:  But  what  I  could  afford.  .  .  . 

TOM:  Yes? 

WILSON  :  You'd  get  free  of  Income  Tax. 

TOM:  It's  a  deal. 

MAGGIE:  We'll  drink  to  it. 

[The  telephone  rings.] 

TOM:  Hullo?  (He  listens.}  Oh  nol  It's  not  possible. 


ACT    THREE 

You   can't.    It's   not  possible.     (Calling.)    Jimmy! 
Help! 

[Jimmy  re-enters,  followed  by  ILdward  and  Clarissa^ 

JIMMY:  What  is  it? 

TOM:  The  Inland  Revenue.    The  Inland  Revenue 

want  to  talk  to  me — about  the  death  duties. 

WILSON  :  I'll  deal  with  them. 

TOM:  What? 

WILSON  :  I  know  that  department.  I'll  fix  them. 

TOM   (into   telephone):  Hullo?    My  financial  adviser 

will  ring  you  in  the  morning.    (Replaces  receiver.) 

Edward,  Clarissa,  Jimmy — allow  me  to  present  my 

new  financial  adviser — Mr.  Wilson. 

MAGGIE:  We  drink  to  you. 

TOM:  We  drink  to  everyone.  To  Edward.  .  .  . 

MAGGIE:  And  Clarissa. 

TOM:  Sir  George.  .  .  . 

JIMMY:  Lord  Minster. 

TOM:  Aunt  Sophie. 

WILSON  :  And  of  course.  .  .  . 

ALL  :  To  the  Commissioners  of  Inland  Revenue. 


Curtain 


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